Europa Park trip report
Just wondering if there are enough people here interested in a trip report for Europa Park...

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(06-27-2016, 11:24 AM)Brădēn Wrote: Just wondering if there are enough people here interested in a trip report for Europa Park...

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I always like Trip reports. But where is Europa Park, I imagine Europe based on its name. I've never heard of it.
I'd be interested. Haven't ever been to any international parks before, so I'm always interested to see what's going on in the industry elsewhere around the country/world.
I'd love one!
First, a little background. The main purpose of this trip was to visit family living in Germany. I'm not a professional world traveler or anything, this was my first time on a different continent. I don't visit a ton of parks outside of Lagoon very often either. I've been to the major parks in Southern California as well as Great America in Santa Clara  and Walt Disney World. Visiting an amusement park wasn't as much of a priority for the rest of my family as it was for me. I didn't even know for sure if I'd be able to go until the night before. Luckily there were some that wanted to go and we bought our tickets online. I didn't know a lot about the park and wasn't sure exactly what to expect.  I'll try to keep this fairly short (I really could go into a lot more detail) and I will inevitably make a lot of unfair comparisons along the way.

EUROPA PARK - Rust, Germany
Opened 1975 - 2nd most popular park in Europe (behind Disneyland Paris)
General Admission: €44.50 (about $50 USD)
12 roller coasters - 10 water rides - no water park (yet)

TRIP REPORT - Friday, 17 June 2016
This turned out to be a great day for a visit. The weather was practically perfect with just enough dark clouds and a few sprinkles to keep crowds away. We never really waited that long and it was easy to get around without bumping into people, etc.

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Ed Euromaus greets visitors.

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The park opened at 9am and we arrived around 10am. It has its own exit off of the A5 Motorway (equivalent of an interstate highway) and the road led right to the parking lot. There were no toll booths at the entrance. Parking cost €5 ($5.65), but tickets were purchased at a kiosk near the main entrance to use upon leaving. The parking lot seemed about halfway full from what we saw. Parking attendants guided us into our spots on what looked like strips of grass. But when you look down, you realize it's made up of special pavers that make a cross-hatch pattern with square holes allowing grass to grow in between. It's fairly common there. It allows rainfall to enter the soil instead of creating runoff and it looks nice from a distance. Unfortunately, it wouldn't work in Utah. Germany gets quite a bit of rain and from what I hear, farms there don't rely on irrigation very much, if at all.

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That's Silver Star in the distance.

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The parking aisles fed into a central pedestrian path with a series of recently-added walkavators. There was just one lane of walkavators, all moving toward the entrance. Some time around the end of the day they start going the opposite direction. At the end of the parking lot, the path leads to a tunnel that crosses under vehicular traffic, then past a calm, narrow river on the way towards the entrance plaza.

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On one side of the plaza, before the main entrance, there's an events center where shows and conferences are held.

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The entrance building has a monorail station on the top floor. There are three different monorail stations at Europa Park - this is the largest of the three called the EP Express.

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Europa Park is owned by Mack Rides and was meant to showcase the company's different rides. A few years after it opened, they began building different areas to represent different countries of Europe. This was around 1982 when EPCOT Center opened in Florida, but let's not jump to conclusions... Wink

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German area just inside the main entrance.

So when you enter the park you're in Germany - I mean the section of the park with a Germany theme - kind of like Main Street, USA. There are shops on each side and they are connected inside like they have done with Main Street in Walt Disney World. Unlike Disney World, the park is kind of spread out lengthwise with the entrance on the north end and there is an actual, authentic castle here which the park was built next to called Balthasar Castle (doesn't really look like a stereotypical castle, but it was originally built in 1442).

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Next to Germany is Italy with a small Venice-like canal and bridge surrounded by Italian restaurants. We ate at the counter-service restaurant here and I had a really good, large portion of lasagna. They also had lots of other pasta choices and pizza along with tiramisu and other desserts. The price was really good too. It ended up being about equal to a meal at Lagoon. It was pretty hard to find the usual amusement park menu items like corn dogs and hamburgers. There's also a table-service restaurant here. Coca-Cola is the official drink here and one of the shops in Italy is a little bigger than Lagoon's Fascination or Central Park and sold only Coca-Cola souvenirs. There's also a couple small rides in Italy, but they had to wait until later and then we ended up not having time. So I didn't get to see their haunted dark ride, Geisterschloss. Frown

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On the other side of Italy is France where Silver Star, Eurosat and the observation tower are located. Silver Star was our first ride. It's sponsored by Mercedes-Benz and has displays of their race cars in the station/queue building along with a little gift shop (not the kind you're forced to exit through). The wait wasn't too bad, but two people in our group decided to wait in the line set apart just for the front row. We got two rides in the amount of time they waited for one. We came back to ride it a third time and tried the front row line. It took almost an hour this time even though the line was shorter than in the morning. Maybe they took a train off? I loved the ride. Tons of air time and speed. Felt like you were flying/floating over the parking lot. The other rows were just as fun as the front. Restraints were similar to Wicked or Cannibal. It's 239 feet tall and tops out at almost 80 mph. A four-minute ride that ends swooping along the little river before heading into the station. Silver Star is a B&M and one of only two coasters at the park not made by Mack Rides.

A lot of the coasters had a separate line for the front row, sometimes in addition to a single rider line. There were usually storage bins available when you boarded a ride. Silver Star had the kind where each train has its own storage shelf that automatically closes until that train returns. People used them pretty quickly and efficiently from what I noticed.

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Next we rode Eurosat, a roller coaster inside a giant sphere (the exterior is much like Spaceship Earth at Epcot). There were all kinds of creepy animated figures. While waiting in line there were some models of some kind of space lab on the moon or something and a suspended model spaceship. After awhile I noticed the spaceship looked like a tape recorder. Sure enough, there were headphone jacks and a volume dial on the side. The space lab was made from old projector parts. Pretty cheap-looking after you notice it, but clever at the same time. The ride has a very, very long spiral lift around a center tower. About halfway up I reached out in the dark to touch the tower and found out it was turning with us. Pretty interesting lift. It was a pretty rough, wild ride in the dark with lasers and stuff. Kind of like a really compact Space Mountain.

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Scenes in the queue for Eurosat.

Next door in Russia we rode Euro Mir. I have seen photos of this ride before. The mirrored towers are pretty unique. This was a lot like Eurosat in that it was based on space exploration and had the same spiral lift. The main difference is this is mostly outdoors and the cars spin. Not quite like Lagoon's Spider though because these cars are part of a train. They occasional lock in place or unlock to spin freely, including on the lift. It was a little disorienting facing different people at different times. The ride started off smooth and steady, then got faster towards the end. The whole ride is almost 5 minutes long! When I saw the giant satellite behind the ride I remembered all the weird theme elements and rides in Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 and realized a lot of the stuff in the game was probably based on Europa Park. Brought back a lot of memories. I could almost hear that stock scream sound effect in the background.

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Russia with Euro Mir in the background.

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We backtracked to Greece to try out the VR option on Pegasus. I wrote about my experiences with the VR rides here:

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The VR headset with a shower cap-type thing over it because it was rainy early in the day.

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Poseidon water coaster in Greece.

Poseidon, one of two water coasters, looked pretty fun, but we got distracted and eventually got closer to other rides we wanted to go on. Then we just rode Atlantis SuperSplash instead, which was taller, but not as long. Poseidon looked more fun to me. After lunch we took the EP Express monorail from Germany to Spain. We got a nice view of the park and of the construction going on in the newest area - a kid's section based on Ireland. The EP Express has four stops including at one of their hotels. They have five 4-star hotels next to the park. There's also a special entrance for hotel guests on the south end of the park. They even have a "camp resort" where you can bring your own tent or trailer or stay in one of their teepees, log cabins or covered wagons next to a little lake.

We got off the EP Express in Spain and walked to Iceland to ride the park's wooden coaster, Wodan. This was an amazing ride. I was not expecting such constant speed throughout the ride. The whole ride was a blast. There's one part where you pass back through the station on an upper level. I knew it was there, but didn't even remember going through it when I was on the ride. Would've ridden again if we had time, but it was getting closer to closing time (generally 6pm unless it's a busier day, then they might stay open until 9pm). This is the other non-Mack coaster, designed by GCI.

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Gateway to Wodan.

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Entrance to Wodan.

Also in Iceland is Blue Fire, a launch megacoaster by Mack and sponsored by a natural gas company. The theme in the first dark portion of the ride seemed like what they tried to do with Wicked at first. You come to a full stop in a dark warehouse/lab-type room before launching, then an alarm sounds, doors fly open and next thing you know you're hurtling towards the top and descending into a giant loop (the only loop in the park). This ride was thrilling, but not as fun as Silver Star for me. One interesting element - the metal handles in front of each restraint reads your heart rate when you're holding them.

While waiting for others that wanted the front row on Blue Fire, we rode the Whale Adventures water ride. This is on a tugboat that goes past seals and icebergs and stuff while you shoot at things with water cannons. The middle of this ride used to put you face to face with the boat ahead of you so you could shoot each other, but a few years after it opened that was blocked by more targets. There is still a water cannon off the ride towards the end. We soaked a kid who thought he could get us.

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Part of the Whale Adventures ride with Atlantis SuperSplash in the background.

We wandered over to Scandinavia and rode the Fjord Rafting river rapids ride. The water rides here didn't get us nearly as wet as Rattlesnake Rapids or Cliffhanger, but they were still fun. Fjord Rafting had some really wide parts with lots of rapids that was a lot more realistic. The lift back up to the station at the end was in a building with tons of elves mining, cooking, drinking, etc.

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Tidal Wave? No, that's Vindjammer! With vikings instead of pirates, and a lot more sails. It actually didn't go much higher than this, but it seemed to go back and forth a few more times. The screaming contest was a thing here too. Screaming is a universal language, I guess. We went back through Spain to get to Austria where the Alpenexpress VR coaster and Log Flume were.

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...and don't forget Portugal!

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Nice little plaza in Spain near the hotel entrance. Behind the wall was a kid's playground.

The Tirol Log Flume and Alpenexpress mine train coaster intertwine, weave around and cut through a mountain containing a colorful diamond mine. Alpenexpress has a VR option too, but some of us liked the ride better without because it felt faster and there was already a lot to see as you flew through the mine, part of Spain and back into Austria. It circles the track twice so it picks up speed a little the second time. Or at least, it felt like it did.

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Tirol Log Flume loading station in Austria.

The log flume was a lot of fun too. You can enjoy your surroundings a little more though, since it's slower than the mine train. There are two drops. I actually got more wet on the first, shorter drop. Near the exit of the water rides they have little booths. For one euro you can dry off in the booths which blow hot air on you. There's room for multiple people if you don't mind getting close. I thought it was a good idea, but it was kinda funny since you don't really get wet on any of the rides. Some people are going to get more wet than others, of course, but nobody I saw was really soaked.

We still wanted to ride the two coasters in Switzerland, so we went through Grimm's Enchanted Forest on the way back. This was an impressive kids area with a bunch of buildings and activities related to fairy tales. They all had little animations that were activated by buttons as you read through the stories on a book in front. There was also a unique-looking playground and some really tiny rides for toddlers. One looked like a one-person Paratrooper ride.

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There were a ton of little rides like this all over. Multiple rail-guided cars, boats, trains and a pedal-powered inverted rail thing (center). There were also a lot of little indoor attractions that, without walking in to take a look, were hard to tell if they were little displays, dark rides or museums. There was one in Scandinavia with some creepy, angry, chanting trolls.

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Well-done photo ops.

We got sidetracked by a newer area based on a European kids franchise called Arthur in the Minimoys Kingdom. It's mostly indoor and made to look like you are the size of an insect. Inside the darkened building there are  slides, shops, a spinning flat ride and the Poppy Tower (their version of Dinosaur Drop). But the biggest attraction was the indoor/outdoor inverted coaster with seats that rotated like Omnimovers as you moved past different scenes. It was all pretty-well themed. The lockers here were pretty cool. You just had to scan your admission ticket to unlock one and they opened on both sides so you could put your stuff in on the queue said when you arrived and get it back out on the gift shp side  as you exited.

Unfortunately, there was a delay while we were in line and it ended up being our last ride of the day. I was pretty bummed about not riding the bobsled coaster in Switzerland. I've always wanted to ride one of those! Everything closed down fairly promptly except for a few food stands. We got some delicious crepes at a stand in France before leaving.

Didn't see much entertainment, but apparently they are pretty big on it there. They have a 4D show we missed and there were some walk-around characters. Their main character is Ed Euromaus and of course he has a girlfriend and a rooster buddy that walked up on a stage in Italy at one point. We didn't stick around to see what was going on. On the same stage after the rides closed they had some kind of soccer thing with dancers in uniforms, but it looked more like an advertisement than a show. They also have a big annual European dance festival and Halloween is also big there. They are open from April to the first of January, with some rides closed during the colder months.

Another thing I missed out on was the Food Loop Restaurant. Apparently you order your food normally and when it's done it is sent to your table on a rail like a roller coaster. Here's a video that gives you a better idea of what it's like:
Check out the loop at 1:21

For the most part, employees and guests seemed happy and comfortable. The one exception is they could get impatient in line and would stand as close as they could behind you. One guy kept bumping me with his belly and acting like it was totally normal. In one line we waited in there was a guy right in front of us who didn't notice the line moving since he was watching the ride. Pretty common in any park. We waited patiently for a couple seconds for him to notice and he did, but in that short time, the couple behind us pushed through to get ahead of us and the inattentive guy. I mean they literally pushed us out of the way. Of course that made us mad and we just got back in front of them. They never said anything to us and acted like it never happened after that. That was the worst case during the day. It really threw me off at first.

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Old Mack wagon in the entrance plaza. The company started out making wagons, carriages, etc.

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There was so much to see and the park was so well designed, before I left I decided I would just have to make it back some day. Maybe then I'll get some more pictures since I wanted to experience it firsthand as much as possible this time. There's still a lot of exhibits, creepy animated figures and stuff I didn't see. The park has a good mix of rides with relaxing, quiet areas as well.

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One more view of the parking lot before leaving.


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