Late March, I attended the Europa-Park opening weekend with my girlfriend and two of my best friends. Although it wasn’t our first visit to Europa-Park, we never went during opening weekend. We weren’t really sure what to expect: light crowds or gigantic masses. Not letting it bother us, we took off for a six-hour drive to Rust in Germany, the home of Europa-Park.
Side information for new theme park and roller coaster fans: You’ll be reading a lot about Mack Rides throughout this blog post. Mack Rides is one of the leading amusement industry suppliers and builds all kinds of rides, such as dark rides, log flumes, roller coasters, etc. Europa-Park is owned by the same family that owns Mack Rides. That’s why Europa-Park is seen as a show case for new Mack ride types (and why the relatively nearby Phantasialand doesn’t have any Mack rides).
TL;DR If you say Mack Rides, you say Europa-Park. And vice versa.
You can imagine that day one started early for us. We were awakened by the sharp sound of our alarm clocks at 3 a.m. so we’d have enough time to get to Europa-Park. After a few stops and ultimately parking our car at our B&B Pension Zum Grünen Baum, we arrived at the gates at 10.30 a.m. To be completely honest: we were expecting a little bit more ’festiveness’. All we saw were a couple of dancing mascottes (which you can find in each park no matter the date) and dirty confetti on the ground. Ofcourse we were slightly late for the actual opening, but I was expecting more of a fuzz nonetheless.
First up was Silver Star. Years back, this was my first B&M hyper coaster (or hyper coaster for that matter), and I’m glad to say that I’m still in love with this ride. I’m lucky enough to have ridden a fair share of B&M hypers so far and I can honestly rank this one above others such as Diamondback at Kings Island (Ohio, USA). I introduced my friend Dieter to his first hyper coaster and immediately lined up to ride Silver Star in the back seat. Duh, right? We all loved the ride and praised it once again for its smoothness and wonderful views on the park and its surroundings.
After Silver Star, we joined our friend Tine, who sat out this B&M hyper. We went to ride Poseidon, Mack’s water coaster built in 2000. Although this coaster is definitely not half as smooth as Silver Star, we enjoyed it. The lap bars could use some foam on the side though. We smacked our knees to the metal more than a few times during the ride. Not a great feeling if you’re nursing a small IT-band injury! Next we went for a couple of rides on Schweizer Bobbahn (a Mack bobsled) and Matterhorn Blitz (a Mack wild mouse), both fun small coasters bathing in thematization. As we were close to the Russian area of Europa-Park, we naturally joined the line for Euro-Mir, a Mack spinning coaster. The ride’s theme song is quite catchy (I’m actually listening to it while writing this blog post!) and gets riders all hyped up for what’s to come. Even though the indoor lift segment is quite long and dull, the ride itself is exciting. Our ride confirmed that the more intense seats are those facing forward during the first drop. The trains are spinning 180 degrees later on, making those seats face backwards during the more intense second part of the ride.
Time for lunch, even though it felt like dinner time for us! We strolled to Arthur’s Kingdom and enjoyed some delicious snacks in the still rising sun. It’s worth mentioning that food and other concessions are very affordable in Europa-Park. Granted, it’s still more expensive than in your average supermarket, but I’ve seen more jaw-dropping prices in other parks in the past. Additionally, the range of food is very wide. You can eat almost everything in Europa-Park (but you have to find the right restaurants or food stalls first, which can be a hassle sometimes).
Naturally, Arthur was our next ride. The attraction’s main hall makes you think you’re in Phantasialand (because of the similarities to the hall housing Winja’s Fear & Force) and, above all, makes you feel very small. This is because of the extensive and giant theming added to enhance visitor experience. And wow, does this award-winning ride deliver a great experience. From the moment you’re joining the line until you’re exiting the platform, Arthur gives a ride experience to be blown away by. The themed dark ride sections were amazing and I’m still surprised by the sudden accelerations by this Mack powered coaster ride type. We especially liked the indoor section that looked a lot like the Las Vegas Strip and the outdoor roller coaster bit. As we always do when visiting theme parks, we bought our action photo to commemorate our trip.
During the afternoon, we went to ride both Blue Fire (Mack launched coaster) and Wodan (GCI woodie). These rides are so awesome that I actually find it hard to write about them. That’s why I’ll stick to two things I like about these roller coasters: Blue Fire’s super intense barrel roll at the end and Wodan’s surprisingly deep first drop. People who have ridden these coasters know what I’m talking about!
We spent the rest of the afternoon riding Europa-Park’s water rides. They have a log flume, a Mack super splash, rapids and more. As is always the case, I was the one getting soaked all the time. I don’t mind though: the suspense and excitement of the possibility of getting wet makes for such fun times as a group. The sunshine wasn’t too bad, either.
It felt like midnight for us at that time, so we felt like going for a drink. Our lovely ladies had drinks at the pirate ship in the Portugal area while Dieter and I went for a ride on Wodan. After that, we had some beers and wine in Austria. Minor point of critique here: our server didn’t ask whether we wanted a small glass of wine or a big one. Instead she made the decision for us, which lead to a rather expensive bill. We didn’t let it bother us too much though. And if I didn’t mean it then, we certainly meant it after finishing our drinks. We had such a fun time playing ‘never have I ever’ and meeting the Europa-Park social media staff while knocking back beers. After concluding our day with a wonderful ride on Silver Star (granted, in a slightly intoxicated state of mind), we called it a day and got checked in at the B&B.
We had dinner at the Silver Lake Saloon restaurant that night. This American themed restaurant (hence the name ‘Saloon’) is about a ten minute walk from the park entrance and is part of a larger resort owned by Europa-Park. Both the barbecue spare ribs and restaurant atmosphere were amazing. Dieter and I can highly recommend combining your ribs with a pitcher of beer. While the meat practically fell off the bones, we enjoyed each other’s company and the country songs performed live next to us and on stage. What a wonderful first day. Please bear with me, the second part isn’t such a long read anymore!
Day two started with breakfast at our hotel, after which we got checked out. We can all recommend staying at Pension Zum Grünen Baum in Rust, as it’s very close to the park’s entrance and is a more cheaper option compared to the hotels owned by Europa-Park itself. Make sure you let them know you’ll be arriving late at night though!
As the sun climbed, we started the day with Blue-Fire, Wodan and our favorite water rides. Got soaked again. We went for another ride on Arthur and had lunch in France. Once again I was pleasantly surprised by the food prices: 15 euros for a big portion of coq au vin with fries is very reasonable.
We then went for a few quiet rides on the park’s smaller roller coasters we’d ridden the day before, such as Schweizer Bobbahn, Matterhorn Blitz, Pegasus (a Mack youngstar coaster) and Alpenexpress (a Mack powered coaster). However on Alpenexpress, Dieter and I chose to pay for the VR experience this time. We can honestly say that this added another dynamic to the ride experience. I recommend everyone to at least try it once. You’ll be amazed! Immediately after we got off, the ride broke down. I suppose the power went out, as the ride suddenly lost speed and couldn’t make the highest point anymore. This led to the train stalling on the lowest point of the track. Pretty routine, I think. When it comes to technical faults, a friend of mine told me that Blue-Fire had lots of rollbacks during the opening weekend. Sadly I didn’t got to see or experience one myself.
After riding some smaller rides in France and Italy such as Piccolo Mondo and Geisterschloss, we joined the line for Voletarium. This flying theatre (the biggest one in Europe!) has won the European Star Award for best new attraction for 2017, and rightfully so! After walking through the gorgeous waiting areas, we were seated on the third level of the flying theatre (which is the highest level of three). The experience completes the story of Egbert en Kasper Eulenstein, two aviation pioneers, told throughout the waiting area. Riders fly through Europe in front of a giant spherical screen of 21 meters wide while experiencing wind, scent, motion, etc. Even I have to admit that I sometimes grasped for my seat belt as a result of the very convincing, realistic and immersive flying experience. We were all pretty speechless after exiting Voletarium. Do not miss this one when you’re visiting Europa-Park for the first time!
Reality came screaming back to us fast: we had a long drive ahead and we all had to work in the morning. That’s why, after our amazing flying experience, we walked around for a bit more and bought some ice cream before heading home. What a way to spend your weekend.
I always like to conclude this Europa-Park trip report with a quick lists of pros and cons that are not mentioned earlier in this blog post. Here we go:
- PRO: German efficiency! Even though the park was rather crowded, we never had to wait longer than 30 minutes. Especially roller coasters were dispatched very efficiently. Good job guys.
- PRO: The park was tidy, clean and well-maintained. This made a great impression on our friends, for which it was their first visit to the park.
- PRO: The range of food available in Europa-Park is super wide. Additionally, the prices are reasonable and there’s enough seating available to enjoy your meal.
- PRO: Ireland, the newest themed area, looks amazing. Despite it not having any major rides, we really enjoyed strolling around and looking our eyes out. Europa-Park theming never disappoints.
- CON: For us Belgians living in the western part of the country, Rust is far away. It’s therefore mandatory to stay for the night and spend two days at the park. (Which is not a problem for us!)
- CON: We really expected more festivities during the weekend! But maybe we’re just spoiled.
- CON: What’s up with the Europa-Park app? Some functionalities were not activated and the entire app felt laggy and buggy on my (brand new) smartphone.
- CON: There’s no Belgium in Europa-Park!
- CON: We spent some money on water blasters to soak riders on Atlantica, but all we got was a gush of air. I suppose the basters weren’t yet connected to the water supplies. That’s a few coins we would have liked to spend on something else than, well, air.
- CON: We noticed that a lot of park staff didn’t really speak English that well. We’re able to speak French, but I didn’t remember language being a major talking point after our last visit.
- CON: As non-smokers, we all thought that the park should impose some smoking areas. Nothing worse than having cigarette smoke blown in your face. This not only happens on paths but also in waiting lines or food areas.
That’s it for this Europa-Park trip report. Thank you, Europa-Park, for the awesome stay. We’ll be back sooner than later for the opening of Eurosat – CanCan Coaster!