Europa Park

30th July 2004

Europa Park

Our second day at Europa Park began with a thirty minute exclusive session on Silver Star (#326). Though this ride is relatively new it certainly didn't feel like it today, given some distinctive vibration particularly towards the back of the train. It certainly wasn't rough, but it certainly didn't have the effortless grace of the other two B&M hypercoasters I've ridden. The ride layout itself isn't as extreme as Expedition GeForce but it isn't trying to be; as the park manager explained, it is geared at a target audience of families. One only has to watch the faces of riders disembarking to see that the park has gotten exactly what they asked for.

With our exclusive time over we quickly went for rerides on both Poseidon and Matterhorn Blitz, as we'd been warned that both tend to have long queues later in the day. From there we went over to our first new coaster of the morning, namely the Schweizer Bobbahn (#327). I really wanted to like this ride, but it simply lacked something; the train took a long time to get up up to speed, and just as it did we hit the final brake run. On the plus side, it was operating five trains with the most impressive loading speed yet; each could not have been stopped in the station for longer than fifteen seconds.

There are many creative ways of, well, altering the boredom inherent in long queue lines. The Tiroler Wildwasserbahn has one of the strangest, namely several electronic machines which guide people in the techniques of yodelling. I'm not sure about you, dear reader, but I take the view that this is on balance probably not a skill that I need to add to my repertoire. Fortunately there was no wait time today allowing me to pass by the machines with barely a glance, though it didn't stop Andrew. The flume itself was relatively unimaginative, but it does at least intertwine with the nearby Alpenexpress powered coaster.

The very nature of a powered coaster design generally prevents operation with more than one train, thereby limiting capacity. Europa have taken the only available approach to solving that problem with a train that can seat thirty-eight, but even still the throughput is quite poor. The ride does seem a bit dated, too, but having said that it was the first coaster in the park.

We had a hilarious experience during our lunch break at the Balthasar Castle. Due to a breakdown in communications between park management and the kitchen our group ended up with eighty-seven vegetarian lunches and only three normal meals. More than a few of our group were astonished that the kitchen staff didn't query such a strange order; perhaps they thought we were a club of vegetarians? At any rate, we were all given a free drink apiece to compensate us for the mixup, which went down very well.

Europa Park

After our meal the entire group headed en masse for Euro Mir (#328), which had finally reopened to the public. As coasters go this one was pretty unique; it begins with the same lift hill design as Eurosat, then continues with a slow moving section of track where the cars gently rotate. At the end of this section the spinning mechanism locks in place and riders are treated to a furiously intense section of coaster track taken very close to the ground. This section isn't entirely comfortable, especially for those facing backwards, but it is certainly exciting!

One of the funniest experiences available in a theme park involves bringing someone into their first 4D Cinema. Andrew had never been into one of these before, and it was extremely entertaining to watch him flinch and duck out of the way as various projections appeared to leap out of the screen.

Europa is home to two major dark rides, both of which are broadly speaking equivalent to those found in the Disney parks. The first is the Ghost Castle, which takes a much darker tone than that found in the happiest place on earth, including several scenes that are genuinely startling. The other is the Pirates in Batavia ride which earns at least fifty bonus points for not featuring that godawful yo-ho-ho song ad nauseum. The attention to detail on this ride was simply spectacular, making it undisputedly the best dark ride of the trip.

The only truly disappointing ride of the day was one that I'd normally not have bothered with, but my darling brother liked the name. Anyone with a teenaged sibling will immediately understand that I'm referring to the Schlittenfahrt, a word that sounds scatalogical but in fact has a perfectly innocent translation of Sleigh Ride. The experience was well below the standard of the rest of the park, and one to quickly forget. At the other end of the spectrum was Kassandra, a truly spectacular haunted swing ride with a rousing soundtrack that is caught in my brain even as I type this.

Mark had suggested earlier in the day that nobody should miss the World of Diamonds walkthrough. While the experience didn't do much for me it had obvious appeal for those who appreciate fine jewellery. The one interesting thing that did catch my eye was the proximity to both the log flume and the powered coaster. As I mentioned in my diary from earlier in the week I really like when parks design their attractions to interact with each other, even if it does make them challenging to photograph.

We finished up the afternoon with a visit to the Time Travel laser show. The concept here is pretty simple; brightly flashing laser beams draw colourful images right in front of you. I really liked this, though Andrew found it acutely dull. To each their own, I suppose.