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  1. 26th April 2022 (Travel) Hi guys. Today was a very exciting day; the start of my first ever trip to Europa Park! This might possibly be my most significant theme park trip in some time, and it’s quite a significant change in tune compared to the bulk of my recent trips, with a number of new experiences in store for me; my first time travelling abroad post-COVID, my first time at Europa Park, my first time in Germany full stop… I could go on, as there are so many firsts for me this trip! So join me over the next 5 days as I visit Europa Park, a major bucket list park I have legitimately wanted to visit for the past 7 or 8 years, for the very first time! This was only our travel day, so I haven’t set foot into the park itself yet, but I’ve already gotten some glimpses of what Europa Park Resort has to offer. So let me start today from the very beginning. Interestingly, today started out with the longest single leg of the trip there; a 3 hour drive from Gloucestershire to London Stansted. The drive actually felt quicker than expected given it was 3 hours, and my dad said it was very easy, so I guess that’s all you can ask for, really! After that, we went into Stansted itself, where check-in & security were surprisingly quick; we were through it all very quickly compared to what I always remembered Manchester/Gatwick being like, which is always good! It felt very weird being back in an airport… the last time I flew abroad was to Florida in April 2019, so after the few years we’ve all had, it felt almost surreal being back travelling abroad again, with surprisingly few differences compared to pre-COVID! It was exciting, though; even though an airport in itself is perhaps not the most pleasurable of experiences, being in an airport preparing for a foreign holiday does give you a certain buzz that I can’t quite put my finger on, particularly when your destination is a park you’ve spent years dreaming of visiting! After a wait of around an hour in Stansted’s departure lounge, we headed to our gate and boarded our plane to Baden-Baden: This flight was my first ever Ryanair flight, which I’m led to believe is somewhat of a rite of passage for any theme park enthusiast, and I’ve got to say, it was quite good! The seats were perfectly comfortable, the flight was short (only 1h 25m); what more can you really ask for? After getting off our flight, we headed through immigration in Baden-Baden, which was fairly quick, and that’s when it hit home that Europa Park really was well within my reach: Wow, seeing that was exciting! After that, we got our hire car and headed down to Europa Park itself from Baden-Baden airport, which my dad described as a surprisingly easy drive. It took around 45 minutes, and I must say, I was stunned by quite how convenient Europa is to reach from the motorway; when people described it as being in a town/village, I was expecting something like Alton Towers, where you wind your way through all kinds of country lanes and villages for miles on end once you leave the motorway, but it was literally a case of “exit the motorway… wow, there’s Europa!” in an almost America-style fashion! I was also surprised at how much Europa Park dominates Rust; I was anticipating it being a case of Europa Park being in the middle of a large town that engulfed it, but it’s almost more like Rust is an add-on to Europa Park, which I found very interesting! Then, we headed onto the resort itself. I have to say, first impressions are very good; the hotels are stunningly themed, and they’re all very grand in scale! My first view of a Europa Park hotel was the lobby for El Andaluz, where we checked in, and I must say, it’s stunning: We’re staying in a Standard Room Plus in Hotel Castillo Alcazar, and the room is very nicely themed, as well as surprisingly big. The park view is also fantastic, and gives Blackpool’s similar park view a run for its money for sure: After getting settled into our room, we decided to take a stroll around the Europa resort and see what some of the other hotels had to offer. We firstly stopped at Hotel Colosseo, where we loitered around the piazza for a bit: And then we went up to the top of the Colosseum replica, where I got some views of the piazza from above: As well as Rulantica: And also some of the surrounding Black Forest area; EP is surprisingly rural and in a surprisingly nice forest setting for such a huge resort: After that, we strolled past Hotel Bell Rock: And finally, we ended up walking past Colosseo again and going back to El Andaluz: After our little stroll around, we headed into the Castillo Restaurant in Hotel Castillo Alcazar for an evening meal, which it must be said was very nice; the restaurant is also very nicely themed. I didn’t take any photos of the restaurant, but my mum did catch a photo of the very nice corridor leading up to it, which is very well themed indeed, and certainly sets the tone for the restaurant: Finally, I caught a few photos of the stunning night time view from out of our window; Europa really does look stunning at night: So, that was the first day of our trip! Apologies that this was a bit of a boring report today; I hope the next few days’ worth of reports are a bit more interesting, seeing as we’re going to be in the park itself on tomorrow, Thursday and Friday. I’m incredibly excited; I can’t wait to see what Europa has to offer after years of wanting to go! What I’ve seen of the resort so far certainly bodes well for what I’ll think of the park, as it’s all very nice! Tomorrow, we’ll be stepping into the park for the first time… I can’t wait!
    3 points
  2. 27th April 2022 (Europa Park Day 1) Today, our first day in the park finally arrived! It’s a day I had dreamed about for ages, and quite literally dreamed about within the last few months… although unlike in my dreams, no vloggers stopping me from boarding rides or university staff with cricket bats were here to ruin it for me (if you don’t know what I mean, check out the theme park dreams thread)! And it was a very exciting day for sure… let me get straight to the good stuff! We did not go into the park for ERT this morning, instead opting for a more relaxed start to the day. We headed into Europa at a little after 9:30am through the hotel guest entrance, which was very quick and easy: After getting into the park, we initially considered starting with Alpenexpress Enzian, but we could not find the entrance, so we instead decided to start with a nearby ride that we were all hotly ancitipating… Wodan Timbur Coaster Wodan was on an advertised 40 minute queue, so we decided to join it. I was very excited to ride Wodan; Wicker Man was my #3 prior to visiting Europa, so I naturally had high expectations for its bigger, badder cousin. The queue for Wodan is an attraction in itself, with very elaborate theming throughout, and we also had the bonus of it only being 20 minutes as opposed to the advertised 40, which is always good! So, how was the ride? Well, we rode in row 8, and I thought it was absolutely phenomenal; the pacing was truly relentless like no other ride I’ve ever ridden, and every bit of the ride felt like it was trying to fling you out of the seat in some way, including some very unexpected moments of airtime! Interestingly, I thought it encapsulated elements from all 3 of the modern wooden coasters I’ve done previously (Wicker Man, Mine Blower and Megafobia); the initial sequence of elements reminded me a lot of Megafobia with the sustained air on the way down the first drop and the big turnaround directly after, while the fun twists and turns, the relative smoothness and the comfy trains reminded me a lot of Wicker Man, and the awesome little pops of air at the end reminded me a lot of Mine Blower. And it integrated all of these elements wonderfully to make it an absolutely phenomenal wooden roller coaster; Wodan definitely became my favourite wooden roller coaster I’ve ridden (yes, I concede that I definitely liked it more than Wicker Man), and it has definitely blazed its way into my top 3 for sure! My parents loved the ride, too: After Wodan, we headed to the other major roller coaster in Iceland… Blue Fire Blue Fire was on an advertised 20 minute wait, so we decided to give it a go. Seeing as Icon was my #2 prior to visiting Europa, I was very interested to ride the prototype Mack launch coaster. Many had told me that Blue Fire was superior to Icon, so I was interested to see what I thought to it given my Icon love. The wait took a tad longer than 20 minutes due to a breakdown, but that certainly wasn’t for lack of trying on the part of the ride team; trains were being hammered out, and as I later found would be the case with every ride at Europa, the queue moved very quickly, and the boarding/checking process took very little time at all; they don’t mess around! So, how was Blue Fire? Well, I thought it was a very fun ride; it was smooth, the inversions were nice (particularly the first and last ones; the last one is challenging for my favourite inversion), there were some nice transitions and it was overall a nice, fun coaster! However… I did think it was lacking a little something relative to Icon. I can’t quite put my finger on what, but I wasn’t getting quite the same wow feeling that I get from a ride on Icon. It could be that it’s not the most airtime-y ride, and I do enjoy airtime on this style of coaster, so I was missing a little air on there, but I’m not sure that was entirely it; while it was a terrific coaster, I did think it was missing that little spark to make it a true 10/10 tier ride for me. That’s not to say that Blue Fire isn’t a great ride, though; I thoroughly enjoyed myself on it, and it still makes my top 10! Neither of my parents seemed overly keen, though; my mum said it was “sick-making”, and said she isn’t riding again this trip, while my dad said that it felt slow for a ride of 62mph: After Blue Fire, we decided to wander for a bit and see where the path took us. It took us to Scandinavia, and Fjord-Rafting was initially considered as our next ride, but we then made the conservative decision to leave the water rides for a hotter day on our trip (tomorrow and Friday are due to be hotter), so we instead chose to ride… Snorri Touren I didn’t actually know how long the queue for Snorri Touren was, but I thought it looked intriguing, so we joined the queue. For such a hidden away attraction, I thought the queue was very nicely themed, with lots to look at and odd appearances from an octopus who I’m guessing is Snorri (?). So, how was the ride? Well, I thought it was a fun little ride for what it was, with some nice theming, a catchy soundtrack, good projection mapping, and a rather surprising and clever section that almost resembled a simulator-style ride, which I thought was interesting! Overall, I thought it was a fun and intriguing ride, and my parents seemed to agree: After Snorri Touren, we decided to head to another dark ride that I knew a little more about… Piraten in Batavia Piraten in Batavia was on an advertised 20 minute queue, so we joined it. We thought the queue looked rather big from the outside, as it was spilling out of the building into the plaza, but it turned out that the sign was right, as the queue moved at a very fast pace and took no longer than advertised, perhaps even slightly less! The queue was also incredibly well themed, with some surprisingly massive rooms and lots to look at, which is always good! So, how was the ride? Well, I didn’t know too much about it other than that it was similar to Pirates of the Caribbean at Disney and replaced an older attraction of the same premise, so I went in (relatively) blind aside from people telling me it was brilliant. And I must say, I thought it was a truly excellent dark ride, and perhaps controversially, I’d take it over its Disney source material any day of the week (well, the WDW version). There was lots of theming to look at throughout, the scenes were really excellent (with some being surprisingly grand in scale), and other tools such as smells and projection mapping were also used very effectively in there; I thought it was a fantastic dark ride, and it seemed to be a hit with my parents too: After Piraten in Batavia, we headed to our next roller coaster, which was very nearby… Euro Mir Euro Mir was on an advertised 15 minute wait, so we decided to give it a go. The ride looks very impressive from off-ride, with the huge glass buildings and the big rocket giving it a very strong presence within the surrounding area. The ride also has an… interesting indoor queue, with some fun UV lighting and a soundtrack that is bound to be stuck in one’s head after riding (as is the case with a surprising number of Europa’s rides)! So, how was Euro Mir? Well, I was interested to see what I thought to it, as it seems quite marmite; I’ve noticed that people seem to either really like it or not think much to it at all. And sadly, me and my parents all fell quite comfortably into the latter camp. Europa had certainly been buttering us the right way up to this point, so I hate to say it, but… oh dear. This was genuinely horrible, and I don’t think any of us enjoyed it at all. I thought it was quite a strange coaster, with an interesting start with some controlled spinning and a very long lift hill given the height, which was intriguing. The aerial turns were OK, providing some nice views of the park… but that’s where the ride went hugely downhill, both literally and figuratively. Interestingly, it didn’t spin at all in the main thrilling body of the coaster, so nausea wasn’t really an issue, but whenever it sped up or turned, it got horrifically rough. Me and my mum were facing forwards, and we got bashed around a hell of a lot (particularly our shins/knees, getting bashed against the hard side of the car), but my dad, who was facing backwards, seemed to get the brunt of the bashing, with him saying that it really hurt his shins. Granted, Euro Mir is a fairly forceful coaster for a ride of its type, and it’s certainly novel, so I probably shouldn’t be so harsh, but none of us especially enjoyed it at all: After Euro Mir, we wandered into the Great Britain section of the park, where we had a spot of lunch in the sports bar before having a little stroll around the Great Britain area while working out where to go next: I’ve got to say, Europa is the perfect park for just strolling around; it’s truly beautiful throughout, and never feels too busy given that it gets over 5 million guests per year! After a brief stroll through Britain, we stumbled into Switzerland, where we boarded our next attraction: Schweizer Bobbahn Schweizer Bobbahn had a 15 minute advertised queue, so we joined it. I was interested to ride Schweizer Bobbahn; I’d remembered really liking Avalanche at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, so I was hopeful for quite a fun little coaster. So, how was the ride? Well, I thought it was rather good fun myself, with some nice helixes and turns! I didn’t think it quite stacked up to Avalanche, though; it didn’t seem quite as fast, and it had a slight rattle in some of the more forceful sections that I don’t remember Avalanche having, which detracted ever so slightly. Nevertheless, I thought it was a fun little coaster for what it was, and certainly something I enjoyed: After Schweizer Bobbahn, we headed to do the other coaster in Switzerland… Matterhorn Blitz Matterhorn Blitz had an advertised 20 minute queue, so we decided to join it and give it a go. The queue felt like one of the longest queues of the day, however; Matterhorn Blitz is not the highest capacity ride at Europa, and the ride did appear quite popular. It was a fairly nicely themed queue, though, with a very nicely themed indoor section at the end, although I’ll digress that I found some of the animatronics a tad disconcerting! Putting aside the queue, though; how was the ride? Well, I thought the elevator lift was really interesting, and it was relatively smooth for a wild mouse, as well as well themed, but I don’t generally rate wild mouse coasters that highly, so saying it’s my favourite wild mouse coaster is damning with faint praise a tad. With that being said, though, I did like the theme, and it certainly looks pretty; this style of ride just isn’t really my thing, so I’m not sure I was ever going to rate it super highly: After Matterhorn Blitz, we took a stroll and found ourselves in Greece, where we got in line for… Abenteuer Atlantis I thought Abenteuer Atlantis looked intriguing, and it was on a 1 minute advertised queue, so we decided to join it and give ourselves a brief respite from coastering. The queue board certainly wasn’t lying; we literally waltzed straight on, and interestingly, we boarded entirely by ourselves, with seemingly no host there at all! So, how was Abenteuer Atlantis? Well, I thought it was a fun little interactive dark ride, with some excellent theming and animatronics and an overall fun vibe; I really liked it, and my mum and dad seemed to as well. Mum & dad scored well, with them getting scores in the 20,000-30,000 ballpark, but being as shocking at interactive dark rides as I am, I got a truly abysmal 701; I have very poor aim, so I never score particularly well on these. Nevertheless, we all found it a fun little ride: After Abenteuer Atlantis, we initially pondered riding Pegasus, but we were instead drawn to a somewhat more anticipated coaster located right next to it… Silver Star Silver Star was on an advertised 15 minute queue, so we decided to give it a go. One thing I must say about Silver Star is that I think it is quite possibly one of the fastest moving queues I have ever stood in; we were initially doubtful about whether it would actually take 15 minutes, as the queue looked quite large, but the sign wasn’t wrong, perhaps even a little pessimistic; we reached the station in around 10 minutes. I was going into Silver Star with very mixed expectations and feelings. My pre-Europa #1 was also a B&M Hyper Coaster (Mako at SeaWorld Orlando), so I had high expectations for SS, but I also had somewhat low expectations too, as it never seems to get very positive press; it appears to have marmite status among Europa’s coasters at best, with a fair percentage of people not rating it very highly at all while another percentage likes it, but doesn’t love it. As such, I was wondering whether to expect a pretty rough coaster lacking in airtime more akin to The Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, as a number of reviews had implied Silver Star to be quite rough and severely lacking in airtime. I was excited to ride Silver Star, but also quite nervous as well. Would the B&M Hyper experience live up to my glorious memories of Mako from 6 years earlier now that I’ve ridden considerably more rides? Well, I shouldn’t have worried. Unlike the similarly marmite Euro Mir, me and my parents fell firmly into the “love it” category with this ride, and I thought it was truly spectacular! I was a tad skeptical about how our first ride would be, as we were seated in row 5 (slap bang in the middle… not usually the best spot on airtime coasters) but it was absolutely breathtaking! The first drop provided stunning sustained floater, and it bought all of those glorious Mako memories flooding back. Each successive hill had glorious sustained air for seconds and seconds, and I thought the ride was pretty smooth and comfortable too (admittedly not quite the same wonderful level of glass smoothness as 2016 Mako, but that’s to be expected given that Mako was brand new when I rode it, while SS is 20 years old). The ending was excellent too; we got properly yanked off the MCBR with a phenomenal and surprisingly abrupt jolt of airtime, with each successive hill in the post-MCBR section being similar, and the s-bend rode pretty well too! Overall, I was truly blown away by Silver Star, and my parents appeared to be too; they both raved about the experience: After an epic ride on Silver Star, we headed to the other roller coaster in France… Cancan Coaster Cancan Coaster was on a 25 minute advertised queue, so we decided to give it a go. As with many rides at Europa, this had a beautiful queue, with tons to look at, and it moved quickly too; what more can you ask for? So, how was the ride? Well, I thought it was really good fun, and definitely a surprising one; the ride was very smooth, and packed surprising pace throughout, with some really fun turns being packed in there too. I also thought the theming was very fun and whimsical, and I did like having the can can playing to you while you were riding! Overall, I thought Cancan was great fun; definitely one we all enjoyed: After Cancan Coaster, we decided to relax for a bit and sit down in the town square in France to watch the fountain show for 10 minutes or so: I must say, Europa’s France section is beautiful; it had a very nice atmosphere, and was lovely to spend time in! The fountain show was quite a fun watch, too! After our sit down, we decided to spice things up with another random ride we stumbled across… Madame Freudenreich’s Curiosities I thought Madame Freudenreich’s Curiosities looked intriguing, so we decided to give it a go. As with Abenteuer Atlantis earlier, the queue was walk-on, which is always a bonus! So, how was the ride? Well, I thought it was quite a fun little ride! Certainly quirky for sure, but it was certainly a fun little detour, with some fun animatronics, a fun storyline, and surprisingly excellent theming: After Madame Freudenreich’s, we decided to take a gradual stroll down to Deutsche Allee, Europa’s very nice entrance area: We didn’t just stroll down to EP’s entrance area for the sake of it, however. While in the area, we took a ride on… Voletarium Voletarium was on a mere 5 minute advertised queue, so we decided to give it a go. The queue for Voletarium is almost an attraction in itself; it’s absolutely stunning, with some huge rooms and tons to look at! However, we didn’t get a lot of time to look at anything, as we practically waltzed straight onto the ride! So, how was Voletarium? Well, I thought it was a really nice ride, with some good cinematography, nice smells and some nice special effects on the side; definitely a good fun dark ride: After Voletarium, we took a bit of a stroll through the gardens area by Europa’s entrance, as in all honesty, we weren’t really sure where we were going at this point: We eventually found ourselves in Austria, where we briefly sat down to look at the fountains: After our brief sit down, we headed over to ride… Alpenexpress Enzian Alpenexpress had a 15 minute advertised queue, so we joined it. VR was in operation on this ride, but on our train, there were no VR riders, so we managed to score a ride towards the back of the train; always a bonus with these powered coasters! So, how was the ride? Well, I thought it was really good fun, with two surprisingly fast helixes; it’s probably up there with Alton Towers’ Runaway Mine Train as one of my favourite powered coasters: After Alpenexpress, we decided to gradually stroll back over to Iceland to take a second ride on Wodan. I was seated in row 7 for this ride, and it was just as phenomenal as earlier; in fact, it was possibly a tad faster, and I was genuinely somewhat worried for my unzipped jacket’s life over some of the airtime hills! After that, I split off from my parents to go for one final ride on Silver Star. You don’t think of EP as being overly big, but the walk from Iceland to France is surprisingly hefty! In terms of my second ride on Silver Star; I scored the back row, and it was even more phenomenal than earlier! Even with the trim brakes biting somewhat, every hill had a truly phenomenal yank of airtime over it, and the ride was absolutely exquisite from start to finish! You may notice that I have thus far steered clear of doing a direct comparison between Silver Star and Mako. So, has Silver Star dethroned Mako as my number 1 coaster? My answer is… not quite, but there’s phenomenally little in it; that verdict was not reached easily, and my rides on Silver Star today certainly had me second guessing Mako’s #1 placement more than any other ride has since Mako. It was a very tough decision, but I ultimately decided to keep Mako on top because while Silver Star is absolutely spectacular, I don’t think any individual element on it had quite the same wow factor as elements like Mako’s sublime first drop and first camelback hill, from memory, and while still very smooth and comfortable for the most part, Silver Star doesn’t ride quite as exquisitely as Mako did in 2016, and Mako’s completely glass smooth ride was one of the things I loved about it. I know that those sound like very pedantic reasons, but when two rides are both that good and it’s the top spot being fought for, I’m afraid that it has to be pedantry that ultimately decides which ride comes out on top. Nonetheless, Silver Star is a phenomenal coaster that truly took my breath away, and that back row ride in particular certainly had Mako quaking in its boots! After a glorious ride on Silver Star, I met back up with my parents, and we headed out of the park for the day: After that, we headed to Hotel Colosseo for a lovely meal in Pizzeria de Romantica before heading back to our room, saying goodnight to Europa Park for the day: So in conclusion, we had a wonderful first day in Europa Park! The park is absolutely stunning, with stunning rides and stunning theming; it’s certainly a phenomenally well rounded park, in my view, and I can’t wait to see the rest of what it has to offer over the next 2 days! I’m aware that our schedule was quite intense today (I was possibly further down the rabbit hole of “new park stress” than I’d have perhaps liked), so we agreed that we’re going to have a more relaxed day tomorrow, with some shows scattered in alongside rides we haven’t done yet (including water rides and the remaining 4 coaster credits), as well as rerides on our favourites. Thanks for reading (apologies for the length; if you read it all, you deserve a medal!), and I hope you enjoyed my report; I’ll be back tomorrow with day 2!
    3 points
  3. Lo and behold, Day 2 of 2 is here! After staying the night in Lubeck (in what was apparently a non-smoking hotel, but in a room which smelt strongly of cigarette smoke), I was energised for another day. The weather was cold and windy, but no rain. The journey from my hotel to Hansa Park was much simpler than the previous day: a direct train from Lubeck to Sierksdorf, and then a walk to the park. The walk was again very straightforward - pretty much a straight path which takes about 10-15 minutes. Unfortunately, by the time I'd arrived at Sierksdorf, the rain was kicking in, setting the tone for the weather for the rest of the day... I got to the park just before rides opened at 10, and walked straight on in after a quick security check. Dumping my stuff in a locker (1 euro for the whole day with unlimited entries - bargain!), I made a beeline straight to the park's main event - Karnan. I'd been keeping an eye on the park's app in days prior, which showed that it's availability had been...sketchy, at best. So ticking it off first was the safest bet. Arriving by the entrance, there was a staff member out the front, and a queue of people. Karnan was also testing, but filled with test dummies Shortly after I got there, the staff member said something in German I didn't quite understand, but about half the people waiting left. I imagine it was the usual "We don't know when it will open, hopefully soon, but try other rides and come back later". Realising the park would be very quiet and not wanting to take any chances, I decided to hang around and see. It was still regularly testing, still with dummies, so I remained optimistic. That optimism was perhaps foolish though. After about half an hour, and engineer came to queue front, after having emerged from "the tower" and said something and waved his hands, at which point everyone left dispersed. Uh oh, that didn't seem good. I asked the lovely guy out front what was what, and between my basic German and his basic English, I managed to piece together "We don't know when it will open, keep looking at the app". Bye for now The rain at this point was pretty consistent; not heavy, but not light either. I wandered away from Karnan, not quite sure what to do first. My first thought was obviously the park's other Gerstlauer, Flucht von Novgorod. But instead I walked right past their Wild Mouse, so thought why not... Well, it was closed, so that would be why not... Undeterred, I carried on walking in the random direction I had chosen, and eventually ended up the park's Beautiful Britain area, which included two creds. Let's go. First up was Nessie. The park's Schwarzkopf coaster, with basic lap bars and a vertical loop. Nice walk on too. The station for this is wonderful; really nicely themed. This was my first taste of what Hansa Park could do with their indoor spaces, and I was impressed. As for the ride itself, it was...fine? I was a bit disappointed in some ways, maybe because I set up high expectations thinking this might be like a mini Lisebergbanan (a cred I really like) with a loop. But yeah, it just didn't do it for me. Also, the aggressive brake run in the dark was not something I was prepared for (no nice warning signs a la Lisebergbanan!) I also didn't take any photos of it, which also highlights my lack-of-care for this. I wanted to tick off the other cred in the area, Royal Scotsman, whilst here. But lo and behold, it was closed. Entrance shut off with no explanation. Was it because of the weather? Would it open later? No idea. Instead, I turned my attention to the small matter of Highlander. You know, the 120m tall drop tower? I was very confused by this, because the gondola was not parked on the ground; it was instead about 10-15ft off the ground (like in some sort of maintenance mode?), but the entrance was open. I hadn't seen it go yet, but I decided to walk through and see. A staff member appeared from the op box, indicated to give him a moment, and then he lowered the gondola down. Huzzah! At this point, it was still raining pretty consistently. It was windy. My phone said it was 3°. Yet I was going near-400ft in the air. Cool. I love drop towers, but this did get to me a bit. The climb up is slow and suspenseful, and the accompanying music fits really well. It was going up and round that I also realised how close Hansa Park is to the Baltic Sea (spoilers: very close!). Going up just went on and on and on. And the wind and the rain was making me feel very cold. Nearing the top I got the tilt, which doesn't really do a lot for me, but I'm sure gets people. It was running the "super tilt" mode, where it stays like that for the drop, so it quickly went back to the upright position. Then, finally, it stopped. And I waited. And waited. And waited. There's no more audio, no countdown, nothing. Okay, this was a tiny bit terrifying, in the best possible way. How long was I up there, who knows? But soon enough, I was dropping down. That was fine...fun enough, but these larger ones give you more time to adjust to the sensation. In short, whilst the drop on Highlander isn't anything special, the whole build up and anticipation to it is. Really fun, and slightly nerve-wracking, experience! Now it was time to move on over to the much-praised Flucht von Novgorod. I knew the secrets this had (ie launch and vertical lift / beyond vertical drop), and that it had on-board pre shows. But beyond that, I was in the dark. The ride was only running one car, which meant the wait for front row took a bit of time. But I'm not complaining, as it gave me a chance to dry off in the indoor queue, and appreciate the theming around. I was told off by the operating for taking this photo...although maybe he was just telling me no phones on the ride. I don't quite know. Quickly enough, I was on. The pre shows before the launch are great. They set a really nice tone; creepy and spooky, with some neat effects in there too. That, however, it where most of my positives run out. You drop into the launch and it hits you. But at the same time, it doesn't feel that punchy? I know it is a quick acceleration, but it didn't feel like it was all that powerful. Maybe going in from the drop you already have a decent starting speed, so the boost doesn't come across that great? Maybe being in near-total darkness drains it of some reference? I don't know, but it didn't really do it for me. This was particularly sad, as I love Anubis' launch at Plopsaland! You then head on outside and the layout is...fine. Fine seems to be a word I'm using a lot for Hansa Park so far, doesn't it? It doesn't really do much, and it doesn't really give any notable forces / airtime. The inversion over the building is nice, but forgettable. Then you head on inside and reach the vertical lift. Oooh, back to Hansa indoor quality! Stopping on the vertical, you get some more "pre show". I guess if I could understand it more coherently I might enjoy it more, but it felt like a bit of a pace killer - the ride had just got going, now you're stopping me for this? The rest of the ride then takes place in total darkness, and is a bit rough and ready in typical Gerstlauer fashion, which made it hard to enjoy. It then ends with a projection of a crow on the wall (I've since learned about some scarecrow scare, which seems to have gone?). I did like how after the ride, you walk through a maze which has an actual potential dead end. That was a neat little 'post-ride' touch. Overall first impressions of Novgorod though: not that good. This is a ride I'd heard lots of good things about, and was something that seemed right up my street. Again, maybe I set my expectations too high? Maybe it was just a bit of a bum ride, which Gerstlauers sometimes give. It wasn't something I was prepared to write off just yet, but I was disappointed. By this point, the weather had improved ever so slightly - it was still raining, but it was a bit warmer. That, or I just got used to the cold. In either case, I decided to check out what was going on with this mystical Karnan thing. Still closed. Same poor soul stood outside. Fortunately by this point, the Wild Mouse, Crazy Mine, had opened. So I decided to get the +1 now. It gave me some nice Rattlesnake at Chessington vibes, and the singing animatronics were just on the right side of annoying to be charming enough. Ride is standard though of course. Sticking near Karnan, I then went for their Gerstlauer junior cred, Schlange von Midgard. This ride looks stunning, though sadly I didn't get any photos. In true recent Hansa fashion, it features a nice indoor pre-show section, with animatronics and some backstory. At the top of the lift, there's a screen with some stuff going on. Couldn't see what though as there was a huge warning message over the screen. Whoops. Ride itself is pretty fun; surprised there isn't more Gerst family coasters in general. Thanks to my slow wandering round the park, it was coming up to 12. Karnan had stopped testing, and the rain was coming down heavier again and it was becoming a bit colder. I took shelter under a nearby canopy to try and figure out my plan for what to do. I quickly decided that food would be the best option, even if it was a bit early. There didn't seem to be many indoor options except the restaurant at the front of the park, "Weltumsegler". This place looked really nice, and had a "canteen" style set up. This turned out to be a great choice, as demonstrated by this wonderful spicy currywurst and fries, and Oreo/grape dessert... This gave me a chance to warm up and take stock. I had managed all open creds, but there were still 3 closed creds and no clear indication if they would open. The park had a selection of water rides, something which I usually like but wasn't feeling because of the weather. There was some smaller rides which didn't appeal, and the Gerst sky fly, which again isn't my thing. So I decided after lunch to just walk around, despite the rain, see parts of the park I hadn't yet seen, and go with the flow. Here's some random pictures... Remember I said I didn't take any photos of Nessie? Well, I lied, I took this terrible one. Some water rides I did not ride I came across Novgorod on my wander round, and decided now was a good time to give it another shot. I had a back row ride this time. It still didn't do it for me. Disappointing. After this, I caught a glimpse of Karnan again (it's hard not to in the park!). And I saw a car moving. And it was empty - no test dummies! That had to be a good sign, right? So I made my way towards to it, and lo and behold, it was open!! Yes! So let's get to - Der Schwur des Karnan. The queue line is absolutely fantastic. Highly detailed, with great special effects. The indoor section has some TV screens explaining the story (with English sub-titles), in a Hex-at-Alton Towers like fashion. I know that some people don't like this style of storytelling, but the park have made it work. I got to see the full loop plus some repeat during this wait. Then I was batched into the first pre-show room, which again is told by TV screen and following the same character in the queue line videos. This features a wonderful reveal of where to store your bags; really liked that! Then comes the first special feature of Karnan; the row choosing ceremony. I'm sure most know what's what: you stand in a row, then a dramatic sequence occurs which randomly assigns you to a row. I'm sure that it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I really loved the suspense this built up, and it's just a great deal of fun. Top rating from me. I was assigned into row 2, and was finally sat down in the beast that was Karnan. I've had previous experience with Gerst's clamshell restraints, on Gold Rush at Slagharen, and liked them then, and this was no different fortunately. I won't explicitly talk about the indoor section of Karnan. What I will say, however, is that I knew what happened, and still loved it, was still mightily impressed by it and found it truly exhilarating. Fantastic. If you know, you know, if you don't, don't look it up. As for the outdoor section of the ride - I can't sing its praises enough. The first drop is fantastic. The non-inverting butterfly element thing that follows is brilliant; filled with some weird moments and the exit to it is better than so many first drops on other coasters. The remaining parts of the layout are low to the ground, taking at high speed and feature great pops of airtime and lateral forces. And whilst doing all of this, it remains comfortable, and not too forceful. It truly is a masterpiece. Hitting the brake run leaves you processing everything which just happened. Annnnnd then, Karnan goes and spoils itself. There's a short indoor section to end the ride, including a verrrrrrrrry slow roll, which isn't particularly comfortable or interesting, followed by pitch blackness, bar the pointless on ride photo opportunity on a brake run (why?), and some heroic music to end off. This ends the ride on a low note for me; that whole section as it stands is either unnecessary, or needs some theming / effects to bring it to life. Or it would be better if you took the inversion at some speed; a final big hurrah. I don't want to 'do a Karnan' and leave its review on a bum note. So let's focus on the positives: this is a fantastic attraction, which looks visually stunning (even the weird supports for the butterfly thing work), has brilliant build up which is dramatic and serious, whilst still exciting. And it has a great roller coaster to back it up too. Definite Top 10% material and, for me, gets a Top 10 spot too. I know some people have said the tower is a bit boring, but I liked how intimidating it came across After my first ride, I was itching to get on again. I completely forgot about the rest of the park. I forgot I still had 2 creds to check on. I forgot that I would have liked another go on Highlander. There was Karnan and only Karnan. The wait this time was a bit longer; no doubt by now everyone had converged to the almighty Karnan. It took about 40 minutes this time. And here's where I have a bigger niggle about Karnan. It feels like a nightmare to run. It was only running one car, which means its throughput on that day would have been shockingly bad. But the staff were still struggling with timings. We were batched into the batching pre show room before people had left it. This left an awkward wait. I don't know why the ride was delayed for over 3 hours, but it's dodgy reliability seemed to be a common trend when I was looking in the days leading up to the trip. Is Karnan something bigger than Hansa Park can handle? Did they try to create such a fantastic, larger-than-life experience that they got carried away and lost sight of making sure it was easy to operate? I don't know, but that's certainly an impression I got. Maybe I'm being harsh here, since the park had only been open for the new season for just a few days, and they'd still be re-adjusting. But still, something which lives on in my mind. On a brighter note, Karnan still rode fantastic on my second ride, in the third row. And in literal brighter news, the storm had subsided, and the blue skies had appeared! As much as I loved Karnan, I wanted to take advantage of the good weather and be outside, and see what was what with the other two creds. Fortunately for me, they were open! Royal Scotsman was first, and this was a nice Vekoma junior ride. Nothing special, and you could tell this was an older ride which they've tried to retrofit into their newer, theme-heavy ideology. Then after getting briefly lost, I found the park's kiddie cred, Kleine Zar, and ticked off that +1 nice and easy. I also took this photo of a waterfall which features on a slow boat ride, which I quite liked With the weather still nice, I decided to wander round the park and appreciate it in the sun. I also got a glimpse of Baltic Sea too. I took a quick ride on Störtebekers Kaperfahrt, the WildWater West dingy boat ride, for the primary reason that these lift hills give you a nice foot massage, and I wanted a few minutes off my feet. That was enough time away from Karnan though - a third ride followed. Getting row 2 again, it truly cemented itself as a top tier ride for me here, and it had warmed up very nicely. After this, the storm had annoyingly returned, and it bought the rain again. It was now that I was left with a dilemma too, as time was now against me. I could squeeze in another ride on Karnan (maybe even two if the queue was nice), but then have an awkward wait after park close for my train. This would also cut my time fine for getting back to the airport, and a delayed / missed train would be very stressful. Or I could leave now, and have a more relaxed journey to the station. In hindsight, I probably would have chosen differently, but I opted for the latter of these options and called it a day. At the time, I think the new wave of rain had hit me, and even though I would be queueing indoors for Karnan, I didn't fancy getting wetter and colder later. So that was that for my day at Hansa Park. I had a good day, certainly helped by the excellent Karnan, but equally, I felt a bit downbeat about it. Hansa was a park that I had heard such good things about, but I just didn't get the same buzz from it. I definitely think the weather has played a part here. The little bit of cred anxiety too. But even then, I think you can enjoy the real top tier parks whatever the weather. I did really enjoy the park's theming attempts, and it's clear they have some real talent and drive behind them, wanting to make them a fantastic park. I'm not writing the park off, and I look forward to returning at some point in the future. --- The trains back to Hamburg Airport were simple enough, and no delays. The same couldn't be said for my flight home, which ended up being delayed by a couple of hours. Given the problems that Easyjet were facing at the time though, I guess it's better delayed than cancelled. It did mean I got home at like half 1, and had to be up at 7 for work. Not my brightest idea that. As for going to parks solo, was fine. I enjoyed it; none of my fears about it were founded. I'm looking forward to my solo America trip in a few weeks all the more now! --- I'll round of the trip with a little geek summary: New parks: 2 New creds: 15 Best new cred: Karnan Most surprising cred: Limit, for not killing me Most disappointing cred: Flucht von Novgorod Best non-cred: Highlander Highlight: Broad one, but actually going abroad again Lowlight: The bloody weather
    3 points
  4. 28th April 2022 (Europa Park Day 2) Day 2 today! I know I said that we were planning to have a more relaxed day today, but we had more left to do rides-wise than we’d previously anticipated, and if I’m being honest, I am quite naturally drawn to rides compared to Europa’s other stuff, so I’ll digress that that did go out of the window somewhat as the day went on. It wasn’t quite as intense as yesterday, however; there were less coasters involved, and my parents said it felt more relaxed than yesterday. We did oversleep slightly, and my parents weren’t feeling ready to enter the park early, so I did enter the park on my own at a little before 10am. As with yesterday, I was compelled to start on… Wodan Timbur Coaster Wodan was on an advertised 20 minute queue time, so I decided to give it a go. The queue ended up being a bit longer than advertised, taking around 35-40 minutes. So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 9, and it was just as phenomenal as yesterday, being blisteringly fast and packed with airtime: After an awesome ride on Wodan, I decided to have another try of the other coaster in Iceland… Blue Fire Blue Fire was on an advertised 30 minute queue time, so I decided to give it a go. Interestingly, the ride once again had a brief breakdown while I was in the queue, but it must be said that it was resolved very quickly; only one empty train cycled and then people were back on it! Operations were also phenomenal; for some idea, 20-seat trains were launching before the train in front had even hit the final brake run, which is really quite nuts! So, how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 8, and it was similar to yesterday; a very good, fun ride with some nice inversions and hangtime: After Blue Fire, my parents entered the park, and we headed together to ride… Arthur Arthur was on a 35 minute advertised queue time, so we decided to give it a go seeing as we hadn’t done it yesterday. The queue for this was quite long compared to other rides in the park, and it took a little longer than 35 minutes (perhaps closer to 45 minutes to an hour), but it was very well themed (although that is admittedly the case for most queue lines at EP)! So, how was the ride? Well, I must say it was a very pleasant surprise! I went in anticipating quite a tame, kiddified ride, but I’ve got to say that it was really quite a fun dark ride roller coaster; the dark ride portion was brilliant, with some great scenes, and the coaster element was more thrilling and more substantial than expected! Overall, Arthur was a really fun attraction that we all thoroughly enjoyed; certainly a pleasant surprise: After Arthur, we sauntered around the Austrian lake for a bit before riding… Josefina’s Magical Imperial Journey Josefina’s was nearby, it had a very minimal queue, and my mum had expressed desire to ride it, so we decided to give it a go. I’ll admit that this was slightly different to what I was expecting from having viewed the Austrian lake yesterday; I thought riders had water cannons to shoot passers-by with, but it turns out that that was a completely different ride! Anyway, how was Josefina’s Imperial Journey? Well, I thought it was a really nice attraction; nothing too thrilling for sure, but a very nice way to relax for a few minutes, with wonderful scenery and some really cool fountains! Overall, we really enjoyed Josefina’s, and it was certainly a nice little ride for what it was: After our ride on Josefina’s, we decided to trek over to Greece to have a go on… Pegasus Pegasus was on an advertised 25 minute wait, so we decided to give it a go. This was one of the 4 credits I was missing, and the only non-water coaster remaining at that point, so I was intrigued to try it. I did notice that Pegasus appeared to be one of the lower capacity Europa coasters; with only one train of 18 riders, it wasn’t throttling people through at quite the same rate as the others, so the queue ended up perhaps being longer per the amount of people in the queue than some of the park’s other rides. That’s not to say that it was at all slow, mind you; as is usual in Europa, the staff certainly didn’t hang about when the ride was parked, and the train appeared to be sent in very little time at all; great job, guys! Anyway, how was the ride? Well, it was quite a pleasant surprise! I was expecting something akin to a Vekoma Rollerskater like Hippogriff, but the actual ride was very fun, very smooth and a fair bit more thrilling than expected; it reminded me more of Thirteen’s outdoor section, with perhaps even a tad more punch than that, and on the back row (where we were seated), it had a surprisingly fun pop of airtime on the drop, as well as in one other area that I remember! Overall, I thought Pegasus was a very fun ride, and definitely a pleasant surprise: After Pegasus, we decided to tackle the other Greek roller coaster, and our first water ride… Poseidon Poseidon was on an advertised 20 minute queue, so we decided to give it a go. This was our first water ride of the trip, so I was interested to see what it was like. Before getting onto the ride itself, I must talk about a rather embarrassing moment that occurred in the queue. I was taking photographs with my phone, and I was prepping to take a photograph of a boat splashing down the first drop. However, I didn’t realise that the queue was designed in such a way that the waves could come over into it, so as such, I got caught off-guard and got surprisingly drenched! My phone was fine, but things certainly got off to a pretty wet start on Poseidon! It must be said that the queue and general area are stunningly themed; I think the whole bit around Poseidon is a truly stunning vista within Europa, and the queue is fantastic! So, how was the ride? Well I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a fan at all. I was intrigued to see how the coaster sections rode on Poseidon, as my only previous experience with a Mack Water Coaster was Journey to Atlantis at SeaWorld Orlando, whose coaster section is not especially extensive, but I’m sad to say that I didn’t especially enjoy the coaster bits of Poseidon. It was similar to Euro Mir in that it seemed to get hideously rough whenever it sped up or turned (although perhaps slightly less bad than Euro Mir), and I was bashed around like hell. And even on the straight bits, it seemed to vibrate in a rather uncomfortable way that hurt my bottom a bit (I know that sounds weird, but that’s what I genuinely felt). Wetness-wise, I got pretty soaked; my trousers were soaking wet through! However, we’re not talking anywhere near a Valhalla level soaking or anything; it was still within the comfortable realm of wetness, so I’d say it delivered as a water ride. Overall, while Poseidon looks beautiful, I wasn’t really a fan of its on-ride experience; it was too rough for me, I’m afraid: After Poseidon, we had a bit of a sit down in France with some delicious baked goods; we had pretzels from the boulangerie, and they were delicious! After that, we walked for a bit, and headed onto… Piccolo Mondo Piccolo Mondo was on a walk-on queue, so we decided to give it a go; it was a new dark ride that I thought looked intriguing. So, how was it? Well, I thought it was quite good fun; it was certainly quirky, but it had quite a fun vibe about it, and it had lots of fun animatronics and scenes! All in all, definitely a fun little ride: After Piccolo Mondo, we decided to try the other dark ride in Italy… Geisterschloss Geisterschloss also had a very small queue, so we decided to give it a whirl. I’d heard that this was very similar to Disney’s Haunted Mansion, which I really liked, so I was interested to give it a try. So, how was it? Well, I can definitely see the similarities between HM and Geisterschloss (not least the stretching room pre-show, which was almost an exact replica of its Disney inspiration), but it was surprisingly dark and gory in comparison to Haunted Mansion, with a lot of heads being cut off and dead bodies. It also appeared more reliant on jumpscares than HM, and while it was a nice dark ride, I’m not sure I liked it quite as much as its Disney sibling: After Geisterschloss, we cut through an alleyway to get nearer to the entrance of… Silver Star Silver Star was on an advertised 15 minute queue, so we decided to give it a ride. As with yesterday’s rides, the queue moved at phenomenal pace, and I’m not sure it even took 15 minutes! So, how was the ride? Well, we were seated in row 7, and it was just as phenomenal as yesterday, being packed full of awesome airtime: After Silver Star, we sauntered steadily over to Portugal to do our final new coaster, and our next water ride… Atlantica SuperSplash Atlantica was on an advertised 35 minute wait, so we decided to give it a go. Unfortunately, this was somewhat understated, and it ended up taking close to an hour all in, which was the longest queue of the trip so far. That’s not through the fault of the ride team, however; the queue still moved fast, and there are many theme parks where I’d be thrilled with an hour’s wait, so I guess Europa has just spoiled me over the last 2 days! So, how was the ride? Well, it was perfectly all right, but not something I was particularly thrilled with or something I’d rush to do again unless it had a short queue. The main drop was quite good, and the airtime hill was a fun moment too, but the ride didn’t do an awful lot, and I thought the coaster functionality didn’t really serve much purpose; it just kind of existed, and it didn’t really add a lot to the ride for me. Don’t get me wrong, Atlantica wasn’t a bad ride by any means, and I did get pretty wet on it, so it certainly served its purpose as a water ride, but it wasn’t a favourite of mine, and I think my parents agreed. It looks beautiful, however, and is very well themed: After Atlantica, we sat down for a few minutes before deciding to do another water ride while we were still wet… Fjord-Rafting Fjord-Rafting was on an advertised 20 minute queue, so we decided to give it a go. We were going to do this yesterday, so I was intrigued to see what it was like now that we’d vowed to do water rides today. So, how was it? Well, I thought it was a very enjoyable rapids ride; there were loads of good waves, loads of good effects, some really nice theming, and it was overall a really good, fun rapids that was decently wet while still being within the realms of fun! I definitely liked this rapids a lot! (I apologise, as I realise I forgot to photograph Fjord-Rafting…) After a fun ride on Fjord-Rafting, I split off from my parents; they went to the paddle steamer in France for some drinks, while I had one last ride on each of the big 3. I initially started with Silver Star, where I scored a back row ride; it was absolutely sublime, with tons of phenomenal airtime! I then trekked over to Iceland, where I joined a 25 minute queue for Blue Fire. I scored a back row ride on this too, and similarly to earlier, it was good fun! I then finished the day with a ride on Wodan. I was seated in row 9, and this was possibly the most fast-paced Wodan ride yet; the ride felt absolutely unstoppable! Having done the big 3 in quick succession, and having done multiple rides on each now, I am definitely noticing a hierarchy emerging in terms of how I rank them. Silver Star is top dog (a truly spectacular ride that is packed with fun and infectiously rerideable!), Wodan is a very close second to Silver Star (absolutely relentless, and so much fun!), and Blue Fire is a more distant third (still an excellent coaster, but lacking a certain something to take it into that truly top tier alongside Silver Star and Wodan. Nevertheless, the last inversion is truly excellent, and the ride is certainly great fun!). After my rides on the big 3, I headed back to our hotel, where I met back up with my parents to close off the day with a lovely evening meal in Restaurant Castillo. So, that was day 2! We had a great day today, and I thoroughly enjoyed ticking off more attractions we hadn’t done, including some slightly different ones compared to the rather coaster-heavy first day! Thanks for reading; I hope you enjoyed my report from day 2! Day 3 will be coming tomorrow, and my mum has already strategised a plan of action for us tomorrow that involves ERT and getting on some of the remaining rides we haven’t done, as well as rerides on our favourites and possibly a show or two as well!
    1 point
  5. Rewinding just over two years ago, I and a few friends had booked a trip out to Hamburg, which would include one and a half days at Heide Park - plus a stay in their hotel - and a day at Hansa Park. It would coincide with two of our birthdays too. What better way than to spend a birthday at a new park? At the time, this Covid-19 thing had just turned up on the British doorstep, and concerns were growing. But the idea of a lockdown was a far away thought. Obviously, come March, that all changed, and the trip cancelled (fortunately fully refunded). So instead of celebrating my birthday in some new foreign park, it was spent hunkered down in lockdown. "Ah well, maybe net year" I thought. Obviously I could go to Hamburg at other times, but I dunno, something felt kind of right about doing this trip over my birthday. But the world had other plans. Lockdown III was coming to an end, but foreign travel was out of the question, and the UK parks were out of the question. Instead, my birthday in 2021 was spent playing some outdoor mini golf (which was a big deal at the time tbf). Early 2022 came around, and things seemed a bit more promising. Maybe I could spend a birthday out of lockdown for the first time since 2019!! And maybe, just maybe, I could finally get out to Hamburg. I tried to rally up those who I originally planned to go with, but after being met with radio silence, it became apparent if this was going to happen, I'd be going solo. Ooft. Solo park trips aren't something I've done for a long time. Well, I haven't really done them at all. I've maybe spent a couple of hours at a park alone when someone had to leave unexpectedly early, or a bit of time when arriving early. But never a full day, and never at a new park. But to be honest, it wasn't a difficult choice..."ahhhh, screw it, let's do it!" was basically my thought process. To keep costs minimal, this was going to be a short trip - fly in on a Tuesday evening, one park Wednesday, one park Thursday, fly home Thursday night. Ideally I'd've flown in Wednesday morning, but flight times just didn't work out. I had planned to drive too, but that was very costly (plus the rising fuel prices scared me), but I quickly realised both parks were pretty accessible by train. It increased the journey times, but it saved a lot of money really. Anyways, enough pre-amble ramblings. Time to get to it... Day 0 This was my first flight since January 2020. Things have changed a fair bit since then, with both Brexit and Covid. Gatwick airport was pretty chill, and boarding on the Easyjet flight was fine. As Germany require FFP2 masks in certain places (such as planes, airports and trains), crew were freely giving out these masks to anyone who didn't have that specific type of mask. Pretty chill. A not-short queue through passport control followed. It was at this point where I expected to have to show my vaccine passport (the only requirement to get into Germany at the time), but I didn't. Oh well. My hotel was a 20 minute walk from the airport, and was surprisingly cheap and nice given the location. Boom, easy. Day 1 - Heide Park I was faced with two problems for my day at Heide Park. First thing, the weather. The weather had been pretty miserable the past few days prior; cold and wet with threats of storms. Having checked their park app in the days prior, that seemed to be affecting ride availability too. And the weather today didn't seem much better - cold and dark clouds, with high chances of rain. Just a tad concerning. The second was more of an "operational" concern. The park say on their website that the nearest train station to the park is Wolterdingen, which is a 20 minute walk to the park. Annoyingly, when travelling from Hamburg, you can only arrive hourly, at 48 minutes past each hour. So I was left with a choice: arrive to Wolterdingen at 08:48 and awkwardly wait outside the park for ages, but be one of the first through the gate...or arrive at the park late. I expected the park to be quiet, so arriving late wouldn't be the end of the world, buttttttttt I like to get to parks for opening wherever possible. So I opted to get out of bed the hour earlier to get there earlier. Who needs a birthday lie in when there's creds to get?! Getting from my hotel to Wolterdingen was straightforward enough. U-Bahn from hotel to Hamburg's main station. 20 minute wait time for connection to a random place called Buchholz, then a 15 minute wait to connect to Wolterdingen. Easy enough. U-Bahn went smoothly. But then disaster struck. The connection was delayed...by 15 minutes. Ffs. The train pulled into Buchholz just as my connection left. And it was an hour until the next train. I came to really hate Buchholz. It was a large station which was very windy and cold, and there was no indoor waiting area that I could find. Fortunately, the rest of the journey was easy enough, and the walk from Wolterdingen to Heide was a straight line, and only took me 15mins. And so, a little after 10, I was finally here! Waltzing straight on through, with no whiff of security, my first port of call was the dump my stuff in a locker. I don't usually use park lockers (usually opting to visit light), but didn't fancy lugging all my stuff all day, especially with the ominous storm clouds hanging over. An all day, unlimited-entry locker cost 5 euro...not awful, but could be worse I guess. Checking the app, it suggested that of the "big" rides, only Krake, Flug der Damonen and Big Loop were open. All with 0 minute queues, fortunately. But not a great start, and already cred anxiety was kicking in. But let's not focus on that, and instead let's get some B&M-goodness... Krake wasn't particularly something that was on my radar. Drop, inversion, over, right? A fun +1, but I didn't expect any more. I was, however, pleasantly surprised. I walked on to front row straight away, and got a very nice ride. You seem to hang over the drop for a good few seconds (much longer than Oblivion and Baron at least), and the splash effect is really cool. The whole ride is filled with nice floaty moments, and even then those it's quick, it left me feeling fulfilled. Coupled in with the nice music and nice theming, I was quite happy. It's nothing special, but it does what it aims to do very well. On an even more exciting note, I noticed whilst on ride that Colossos was running. And it looked like people were on it too! I checked the app and it said it was still closed. This left me with a choice...not head over and tick off the nearby creds, or trek to the other side of the park and see what's what. With Colossos being my most anticipated cred of the park, and with it's availability seemingly being sporadic over previous days, I decided to venture over. This turned out to be a very good choice; I saw it run again, and there were clearly people on it. Woohoo! Colossos Fortunately there was no queue, and even getting into the station, there was only a one train wait. The ride, like everything, was on one train, which gave me a good feeling about the level of busyness to expect. Opted for the back row for my first ride. WOW. I didn't really know what to expect from the ride. I hadn't heard much about it, and didn't know the layout. But having done Balder, I had high expectations for my second Intamin woodie. And damn, they were, pretty much, met. Climbing up the lift hill hearing the audio is a neat thing. The first drop is fantastic, lifting you out of your seat. The first airtime hill flings you out too. The second gives you nice really nice floater airtime too. Then you hit the turnaround. This kills the ride a bit. It doesn't make anything bad, but it loses its ability to give decent airtime. You get little pops, but it feels weak compared to what you've just experienced. And this feeling carries on until the helix, where the ride picks up speed and its aggressive nature again. The final couple of hills have some good, consistent airtime, and leave the ride ending on a high note. The "wicker monster", as I call it, looks really nice, and is a good first time effect on-ride as a near miss. It didn't have any fire effects going though, which was a shame. After my first ride, I was itching to get on again. And with no queue, that's exactly what I did. In honesty, there's not many rides where I've had that immediate feeling of "Damn, let's do that again, like right now!"; it was very much a 'Top 10%' ride for me from the get-go. Taking advantage of there being no queue, I went for the front this time. I was surprised at how consistent the ride was compared between front and back. And the pure rush going down the first drop on the front row is something I really liked too. Two rides in, and I decided - reluctantly - to move on. The park seemed like it was going to be quiet, but with the threats of storms still looming, I thought I should try to mop up the creds just in case, and then return to Colossos later if I could. With that, I went to the neighbouring Desert Race. It's basically a Rita clone. I like Rita, so expected to like this. However, it fell a bit flat for me, for reasons I can't quiet put my figure on. Maybe the bare-ness of the ride? Maybe the slow ops, where they waited for an entire full train before dispatching? Maybe the annoying announcements? Just little fiddly things. This also feels like a very Tussauds investment: plonked down, minimal theming, very tacky in general. I hope the park do something with this sooner rather than later. I then went back the way I came towards Big Loop Bog standard old Vekoma. Not much else to say. Then it was time to tick off the remaining B&M, Flug der Damonen. I had been intrigued by this, due to its tight layout and neat theming. Despite the app saying this had a 0 minute queue, there was a bit of a wait...about 10 minutes. No problem really though I guess. I really liked the station; had a real nice vibe to it. I got a front row ride on the right hand side. And the ride...was not that good. It starts off nicely, standard B&M wing. But then it tries cramming all its elements into a small space, and it just seems to make the ride a bit juddery, and it lacks any sort of flow. A real shame, and definitely the weakest one I've done so far. The app still listed Scream, Bobbahn and Limit as closed. These rides had all been closed any time I'd checked the app on previous days too. As they were nearby, I decided to check them out and see what's what. Scream had a sign outside saying it was waiting for a part, and should be ready to open for "Week 15". Sad times, as I like drop towers. Bobbahn had a sign outside saying it was too cold to open. Gah, spite Limit, however, had no sign. It wasn't open, but there was a solid handful of people waiting outside, and staff in the station. I overheard a conversation between guests which I loosely managed to translate to as "it will open soon". So I decided to hang around. To be honest, I can't believe I decided to willingly hang around and see if an SLC would open soon. Especially when it lunchtime, I was hungry, and I was in the same park as a walk-on Colossos. But heyho, a man's gotta get his creds. After about 10 minutes, it opened up. Yay... I managed to get on the second train of the day. Second train of the season. I got a middle row seat, and braced myself in usual SLC-fashion. But something strange happened. It wasn't...awful. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't good. But it didn't try to massacre me, and I left the ride without my head feeling like I'd been in the ring with Drederick Tatum. Maybe the ride hadn't warmed up enough, so it was running slowly and, somehow, less rough? So there we have it folks, if you want a not-awful ride on an SLC, make sure to take one of the first rides of the season on a cold and stormy day! I also quite liked the music - nice rock track. After a quick spot of lunch, I went to the other side of the park, where the water rides and a smaller cred lived. I did both the log flume - which had a long cattlepen queue you couldn't skip over thanks to Covid barriers still being in place - and the rapids in quick succession. They were nice; not too wet, not too dry, and solid, yet unremarkable, examples of their ride types. I ticked off kiddie cred, Indy-Blitz, too, getting a solo ride and a +1 for my troubles. Next up was perhaps my second-most anticipated ride of the day...Ghostbuster 5D. I make no secret that I love shooting dark rides. I'm not big on the Ghostbusters franchise, but I acknowledged that it was something that had huge potential with this ride type. The exterior is very Merlin, in that it looks good in context of what the theme of the ride is, yet still a bit bland for a theme park. And it's kind of let down by the dodgy shipping container entrance. The mathematician in me feels obliged to take photos of any mathematical equations that work their way into theming within rides. As for the ride itself...I dunno. I'm not sold. The idea is cool, especially the working together to take down ghosts. But the pacing feels a bit off. Some scenes are far too long, others far too short. There's not one which is 'just right'. There's not really anything between screens, and the attempted compensation is "let's spin and jerk the car around quickly". This left me feeling a bit motion sick, which was a shame. A bit better pacing in the scenes, and some better breathing space between scenes, and this would be SO much better. On my way to the final cred, I took a nice slow wander round. On this random, meandering walk, I noticed a random fire effect, which was coming from the boat ride in the How to Train Your Dragon area. I don't particularly care for the franchise, but liking fire effects, I thought sod it, I'll give the ride a go. It was a nice little ride, with some neat effects and was largely indoors, protecting me from those pesky storm clouds (which were still threatening rain, but not following through!). Detour completed, I did the final open cred of the day, Grottenblitz, a Mack powered cred, with shared the same building as the previous boat ride. It had a nice layout. But I didn't get any photos (it was getting rather cold). Now it must have been around 2 / half 2, and I'd ticked off all the creds and all the rides I wanted to do. Yes, there were loads of flats, but none appealed. The park have a monorail and train ride, which I would usually do, but both looked slow and burdensome to do in cold weather. So I took the chance to do re-rides, and a do a fair few of them at that. Throughout the last couple of hours, I managed another two rides on Krake (on 2nd and 3rd row, both were nice, but not quite as good as the front, of course), and ride on the opposite side of Flug (which was even more juddery on the back row). I decided to give Ghostbusters another shot, but even being prepared for the spinning, I still felt a little queasy afterwards. More importantly, I managed another 6 goes on Colossos, including another front and back row ride. All in, it really cemented itself as a top ride for me. It had warmed up nicely, and the middle third was running better by the end of the day. Still a weak spot, but the first and final thirds more than compensated for it. I also took the chance to just wander round the park and take some more photos. So here's a little final photo dump on my least terrible photos... All in, I had a really nice day at Heide Park. The weather held off, the park was sufficiently quiet and it has a good selection of rides. It had quite a Merlin feel about it, and even moreso a feel of a park that's had three very different owners and directions. There's the older, classic rides which have a nice, integrated feeling. Then there's the Tussauds-era, plonking rides down and just rolling with it. Then the more recent Merlin-era, where theming and ride integration clearly plays a part, but can be a bit hit and miss. In saying that, I would happily go back again in the future - especially if they were to add a more traditional dark ride, and maybe replace Desert Race with something that uses the space better! The day ended off by taking the train to Lubeck. It was a good couple of hours journey along 3 trains (Wolterdingen to the much-hated Buchholz, to Hamburg, then to Lubeck), but simple enough. Sadly, the weather decided to finally take a turn for the worse, and the heavens opened. The 20 minute walk up the hills of Lubeck felt so much longer thanks to the rain and bitter wind. Cheers for the birthday present, Lubeck...just what I always wanted! Coming soon, day 2 of 2...a wet, cold and anxious day at Hansa Park...
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