During all the years of being a park enthusiast, quite often the following was always brought up in a conversation: Europa-Park is the best park in Europe.
“What’s all that hype about?” I always asked myself. I never understood why the park was so highly ranked – the coasters seemed cool but there was nothing in particular that attracted my attention. Despite that, it was a park I had high on my bucket list. After all, it’s the winner of the Best Theme Park award for the last 4 years. And then an opportunity came along. At the beginning of November last year, It was finally time to visit Europa Park!
We flew to Basel because the prices from Barcelona were cheap (only 16€ the return! But 80€ in total). Once in Basel Euroairport, we took a the bus nº50 directly to the city’s train station Basel SBB, where we got on a train to Freiburg. There we transfered to another train to Ringsheim, the closest train station to Europa-Park. Following the signs there, you can take a bus that goes through Rust, so you can get off on the stop that’s best for you. Approximately, the trip was 2h30.
Oh gosh, what a gorgeous park! We visited the park at the end of the theme park season in November. As it was the middle of autumn, the park was beautifully themed in Halloween atmosphere with thousands of pumpkins (160,000!!!) at every corner and browns and yellows everywhere you looked.
I wasn’t expecting that amount of nature and trees. The natural river gives the park additional points for its natural environment. This is especially noticable in the upper part of the park.
What at first seemed weird, resulted in being a point in favor: the park layout. As I’m used to PortAventura and Disneyland, both featuring circular layouts, EP is totally different. It is obvious that all the big rides are at the lower part of the park, where the upper part is usually forgotten (except for Arthur and Ireland). Eventually I understood the additional value: if you want to take a break from the crowds, you can walk through the forest and relax a little in Germany or the Fairy Tales area, where you are transported to a whole different atmosphere.
Europa-Park is Mack Rides’ window to the world. The philosophy of DIY is special in this park, as almost all coasters are made by Mack Rides. Most of them are nothing out of this world, but the overall experience is awesome. Rides such as Pegasus, Schweizer Bobbah, Matterhorn Blitz, Alpenexpress, Atlantica or Poseidon seem ordinary rides. Especially in terms of ride layout, but the technology and theming plays an important role. All coasters interact with the theming in some way, some more than others (Alpenexpress for example is gorgeous) and they always have a special element that makes it a “what the…” ride.
Euro Mir is a good example of this. This spinning coaster doesn’t sound perticulary promising, but you must experience Euro Mir backwards at least once in your life. I have to admit that it’s rough, hurts even a bit, but the feeling of what-the-heck-just-happened is better than all the above. Also, who picks a coaster around space and Russian raves theme?! I absolutely LOVE the music, even though it feels old, it adds weirdness to the ride. This ride was definitively one of the best discoveries of the trip.
Favorite moment: Backwards drop!
Another classic ride of the park is pretty close to this one: Eurosat . We were lucky enough to ride it during its final operation day. The original ride closed on November 5th for good, and it’s such an experience.
We almost only rode the Halloween overlay aka “The Pumpkin Coaster”. Luckily, on the final day in the afternoon, they changed it back to its original form! Although I really enjoyed it, I’m glad they’re going to rebuild the ride. As Euro Mir, this coaster so much fun (spiral lift hills ?!) but Europa-Park did well to choose for a renovation, as much as enthusiasts love the original. I’m looking forward to the renovation!
Favorite part: The spiral lift in the dark!
Arthur is the main ride in the indoor area of the same name. I can’t avoid to compare this ride with the Futuroscope simulator, themed also to Arthur and the Minimoys. EP’s ride is clearly better. Having in mind that this is a familiar coaster, it exceeds the expectations. The intensity is perfect for its family crowds and the theming is great. Sure, it’s not an extreme coaster, but the outside part gives a fair amount of thrill for the little ones.
Favorite moment: not a particular favorite moment here that I can remember, but some good elements are the securing restraint method and the way you’re shrunk from the entrance to the station. It’s so subtle that you don’t even notice.
Now it’s time to talk about the Europa-Park’s big three:
Let’s start with the former tallest coaster in Europe for years: Silver Star! It was the first coaster at the park not built by Mack Rides. This B&M Hypercoaster, despite being 15 years old, went beyond my expectations. I wasn’t really looking forward to this ride as I have Shambhala at my home park and had heard that the Spanish beast is way better.
I don’t get why people say that! I really enjoyed the ride, the airtimes are beyond floater and as we didn’t had a clue about the layout, the MCBR came as a surprise because we thought it was a camelback! The queue is nothing exciting and that is a drawback, so the overall experience is not as good as Shambhala, I agree. And yet…
I have to say that we were lucky enough to ride Silver Star on a rainy day and without trims! That’s when my vision can be a little altered. This version of the ride was SO GOOD!!! The forces were more extreme and the ride felt a lot more powerful! (But maybe it was only an illusion while we were trying to fight against the rain :P)
Favorite moment: What’s doing a support in the middle of the queue line?! Well, never mind *camera noise*
WODAN. Finally in this review, a ride I was totally hyped for! My experience with woodies is awful, Stampida wass the best I’d ridden so far, so I wanted to experience a proper wooden roller coaster. And WOW.
First: the queue. It’s eternally long but it’s a pleasure to spend time there. It’s beautiful, the best at the park hands down. Room after room has exsesive theming and the outside part is a pathway to heaven for the enthusiasts as you get to walk through the lift and drop structure, completely surrounded by wood! The lighting at night also adds to the atmosphere. There are quite some details too, like the heads staring at the train while entering the station. Such a small effect but extremely effective. Clever.
When it comes to the coaster, it lives up to the expectations. Only a few meters of layout and first surprise: turn with a wrong bank. Then a lift with FIRE (YAY!), followed by a turn to the right while starting the drop with quite some speed. What to say about the drop… I thought I was going to fly out of my seat and hit the wood above. So yeah, the drop gives you some good airtime.
And then the coaster takes you up and down, left and right, always at a constant speed. At the end of the ride, you don’t quite know what you just experienced. Of course, this coaster went to #1 on my woodies list straightaway and will also be difficult to beat.
Favorite moment: that room in the queue where the whole structure shakes aggressively. At first I thought I broke something, until I saw that it was moving by itself. Relieved it wasn’t me!
And finally, the coaster that impressed me the most. The legendary Blue Fire. It’s pure love. First time we rode it it was during sunset and the ride was lit up. One of my favorite things in the world is a wonderfully illuminated coaster at night. It is magical. I fell in love. Maybe it has something to do with blue being my favorite color? 🤔
Let’s forget the interior queue of Blue Fire. One big ad for Gazprom. The magic starts once you step outside and you’re surrounded by this blue monster and the blue light that comes from beneath. It’s hypnotizing.
It was a pity I didn’t had my good camera with me because I would spend hours there.
In the main building, the queue wasn’t very exciting either… It reminded me in some ways to Furius Baco. But a big difference: I sat on one of the most comfortable seats ever. The lack of over-the-soulder restraint makes the ride even more enjoyable. The dark ride section is a good addition that builds up your hype and gives it some link to the weird theme of this ride.
Then there’s the launch… Not the most intense out there but it’s enough to thrill you. And it feels long!
You go up the turn and just when you think that the train is about to stop, it drags you down into the tunnel. I never have a feeling of being almost decapitated on a coaster, but in that tunnel I feared for my life. In the darkness, it felt extremely long and narrow.
The rest of the layout is very very enjoyable, with a fair point of intensity and relative smoothness. But if I must talk about one more element, it is the heartline roll which is the last inversion. I’ve only heard good things about it and that’s why I was anxious for it.
Holy s***, that’s a finale for a coaster! That thing kicks you out of your seat and against the floor, the rocks and the sky. All at the same time. I would ride this ride over and over again just for this. In my opinion, Blue Fire is the gem of Europa Park. Well done Mack.
Huh moment: I think that the fact that it’s themed to a gas provider?
Oh yes, and we also rode Ba-a-a Express. Because. You know. It’s a credit.
More about that and the rest of the park, in part 2!
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