Monday, June 16, 2014

The Great European Theme Park Experience

I have been to the two biggest in Europe, theme parks that is . . . . . here's the skinny: 

Disneyland Paris ~ First I have to say that I went in the dead, cold, icy hands of winter.  Probably not the best time to go to a theme park and feel jolly . . . but since the husband was out of the country and I was bored stiff I grabbed a few work buddies and headed over to Paris for the day.  Driving from Germany to Paris wasn't all that bad . . . the tolls however and extremely annoying.  In Germany there are no tolls, just high gas prices.  In France . . they are all the rage.  I personally prefer the German way of thinking to the French in this situation. 
Disneyland Paris was indeed just like the Disneyland we all know and love . . only on a much smaller scale.  There are two parks (Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios) that are connected by a small walk and of course we wanted to see both parks so we paid out the nose.  The price for two parks, one day pass was 74 euro which is roughly 100 US dollars. Out of the handful of "large rides" (coasters, etc.) they had to offer some of the best ones were out of service at the time, including my all time favorite Indiana Jones.  The old faithfuls of Disneyland were present: It's a Small World, Thunder Mountain, Matterhorn, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Tower of Terror. 
Overall, it was fun . . . it was Disneyland after all.  I do have to say that it was smaller than I expected and for going in the middle of February, in the middle of the week . . I figured the lines would not be so bad.  I was wrong.  It was still packed with lines taking over 60 minutes to ride some of the rides.  Sigh . . .

Europa Park ~ Oh! What fun this park was!!!  I actually just went this last week and we had a splendid time!  From our location in Germany it is only a 2 hour drive . . . not bad at all!!  The cost of the ticket was about half of Disneyland Paris and the park had to have been about 3 or 4 times the size!  It was enormous!  We were there from about 10 o'clock am till about 5:30 pm and were not able to see probably 1/2 of the park!  The park is laid out representing 13 or so European countries.  One can walk through the streets of Venice, Italy into the high Alps of Switzerland.  We enjoyed great food in Mykonos, Greece and later visiting a Viking Village in Iceland.  While the lay out is a little confusing at times I was very impressed with the cleanliness of the park.  The bathrooms were actually "lovely" in Greece!  The park wasn't packed at all even though we were vising during mid June. 
I was extremely impressed with our first ride of the day; the Silver Star!!  We waited in line a good 40 minutes or so for the front row and boy were we glad we did!  The experience was thrilling!! With a height of 239 feet and a maximum speed of 130km/h it is definitely in the "hyper coaster" category!  The first drop (we felt as if we were looking off the side of the world) was heart stopping, the second and third drops were pure joy!  Oh the yelling! Oh the screaming! Oh the hand raising, squealing delight!  The rest of the day had no chance of out performing our first experience . . . but it came close :-)
We were able to enjoy several of the other "big coasters" . . . some were enjoyable, some were painful.  I would stay away from the Eurostat, a large indoor coaster themed around space travel.  It is similar to Disney's Space Mountain but a bit more cheesy.  It is also very musty smelling, the dry ice is a little overwhelming and the ride is so herky-jerky that we all left with a slight head/back ache. 
The Universe of Energy was a fun ride!  There was no line . . . why not?!?  ha!  The three of us (myself, Wynter from work and Clayton) all crammed into one little bench seat as we enjoyed a slow paced tour through a rainforest filled with fake dinosaurs.  It was comical.  The attendant gave us a funny look as we entered the ride . . . we found out why.  We had to have been the only adults riding without the companionship of children.  What memories!
The Matterhorn Blitz in the Switzerland section of the park was fun, but extremely short. The Poseidon ride in Greece was a good way to cool off. The Blue Fire ride was one I could only ride just once . . it left me feeling lightheaded and dizzy for the remainder of the day.  The Blue Fire is a launched roller coaster in which speeds of 115km/h are reached in just 2.5 seconds.  It is then followed by several inversions, dips, spins and loops.  My body was not happy but my spirit was elated.
The Wodan Timbur Coaster was a delightful wooden coaster with a Norse mythology theme.  It was actually pretty fun!  I was expecting more herky-jerky business that is often found with the big, wooden coasters but it wasn't bad at all! 
I would definitely go back to this park and will recommend it to guests in the future.  There are plenty of rides for both children and adults alike and as I said earlier we did not even visit half of the park!