10 Must-Dos in London

10 Must-Dos in London
10 Must-Dos in London

Venice Trip Report

Venice Trip Report
Venice Trip Report

Disneyland California Trip

Disneyland California Trip
Disneyland California Trip

Europa Park Trip Report - April 2015 - Part 3

Europa Park Trip Report - April 2015 - Part 3

As we continue our tour around Europa Park, here we take a look at some unique dining concepts and attractions. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this Europa Park trip report if you haven't yet seen those.

Russia:
Attractions in this area include a Russian Handcraft walkthrough which we didn't see,  'Sleigh Ride Snowflake' which is a winter themed ride which I only know about because I've retrospectively looked at the map, and Mir Space Station which is a space-themed walkthrough. The main reason for going to this area, however, is for yet another rollercoaster - Euro-Mir. Again, techno music fills the air as you go up a rotating lift hill that very much resembles Eurosat in the French area of the park. It is outside, however, that the experience changes as your cars spin constantly over the edge and spiral round the buildings in a somewhat unnerving fashion until you start dropping at high speed. It was an alright coaster but nothing exceptional if I'm being perfectly honest.

Food Loop:
This restaurant is located in between the England and Russian areas of the park, and I have decided to give it it's own section. Food Loop is a unique location that found us waiting about 15 minutes to get in - even during the low season this place was packed and it was one of the longest queues we waited in during our stay. Having seen, the size of the queuing area, I can imagine that the waits for this place can be over an hour in the busy periods.

The reason it is so popular is best this fast-food place is unlike any other in the world. On the way in, and once you have gone through a turnstile, each person in your party will be given their own Food Loop card to make purchases with. You are then free to choose a table and choose your seats. Each table seats up to 14 people and the likelihood is that you will be seated with other people you do not know.



As you go around you can instantly see the appeal of this restaurant - buzzing around overhead you will see food and drinks being delivered in the form of small packages going to the table that ordered the food.

Once seated you will notice that the table is adorned with several touchscreen computers which travel on a track. Here you can select your seat number, you place your Food Loop card on a scanner and then proceed to select what you will be eating. Everything from drinks, to starters, mains and desserts is available right here. Once you are done, you confirm, your selection and wait for your food to come.


A word of warning, however. As we all learned, what you should not do is order your meal, drink and dessert all at the same time. As all main courses are prepared in the kitchen, and drinks and desserts and simply kept in a fridge you will get your dessert before your main.

Within 3 or 4 minutes of ordering and the fascination of watching food being delivered to other tables, you will receive your first items. When they arrive at your table you will see that each item comes in a special pod and has a tag for the seat number it belongs to. You simply spin the turntable in the centre of the dining table and your food will spin round to your seat. Once you have recovered your food or drink, you continue to spin the turntable and the pod will automatically slide all the way round and drop into a container for easy collection by staff. Now that is German efficiency. Admittedly this is hard to understand, so here is a video showing it all.


If you are really lucky you might even get to sit at a table where the food gets delivered to you, after having gone through a 360 degree loop. 

Overall, the whole idea is really fun, but the prices are very expensive in my opinion. A 250ml drink (tiny), a main dish with beef (which was tasty but very small and I doubt was fresh) and a chocolate mousse dessert set me back €20. I ended up having to add a portion of chips as a side to feel at least remotely full. That added on another €3 or €4 to the bill. The main dish took 20 minutes to arrive too, and it came well after the dessert and drinks. You pay at the exit of the restaurant at the end of your meal. I am still unsure whether I'd call this a fast-food or table service establishment after all that.

I would possibly go back to show the place off to someone else, but I would order each course separately and maybe go for something most fast-food-like to get it delivered quickly. Having, compared it to the other restaurant I ate in at the park - a fast food place serving salmon in the Scandinavian area - Food Loop was twice as expensive. Apart from Food Loop food at the park was very reasonably priced when compared to prices at Disney and Park Asterix. There are better value places in the park for sure, but it was a unique experience.

The Historama:
Technically, this attraction is part of the England section of the park but I think it deserves it's own mini-section too. This attraction is located under the Food Loop restaurant and monorail station. Essentially, Historama is a clone of Disney's Carousel of Progress attraction but instead of telling us about the progress of the world, it tells us about the progress of Europa Park. It was actually very enjoyable with lots of special effects inside the theatre including theme park models which came out of the stage, and a totally unexpected mini indoor fountain show. Logistically the show works like Disney's ride with a rotating theatre but the seating here was much more comfortable and everything looks brand new.

Unfortunately, the entire show was in German. Considering there were screens on both sides of the room, it wouldn't have hurt to have one screen with English subtitles and another with French. On even having alternating shows in different languages like Disney does for Disney Jr and Stitch Live in the WDS Park.

Adventureland
This area of the park is very clearly modelled after the original Disneyland. There is a Jungle Cruise style ride with simple animatronics but with no onboard guide in the heart of the lagoon, called Jungle Rafts.




You will also find African Queen, another boat ride on the lagoon akin to the Mike Fink Keel Boats at Disneyland (which operated for a very limited time at Disneyland Paris too by the way) which has water canons on the side. There is also a water playground in this area, and a stream that just runs through the middle of the pathway which was a nice touch that made the area feel more real.



This area is beautifully landscaped and is a joy to simple admire. There is a beautiful bar here which is perfect for doing that - the kind of thing that is really missing at Disneyland Paris, a place to simply relax and enjoy the ambiance. The plagiarised name could have been avoided, however.

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Coming up in Part 4 is a look at my favourite attraction in the entire park - and it is not the high-speed rollercoaster you are thinking of.
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Europa Park Trip Report - April 2015 - Part 2

Europa Park Trip Report - April 2015 - Part 2

In the Part 1 of this Europa Park Trip Report I took a look at getting to the park, accommodation, and the attractions in the French pavilion. Part 2 here takes a look at more of the parks attractions and my impressions of them.

Germany:
The German area is the entrance of the park. We didn't even realise this area existed until the middle of our second day in the park, and we only saw it then by looking at the map. There are no huge attractions in this area, but it does contain a major restaurant and some picturesque gardens.

The fountains in the garden move in time with the music every 30 minutes. I was expecting something a bit more dramatic than what I actually saw from these fountains. They are more of a background animation than something you would seek out to watch. The area does, however, contains a lot of seating to relax in and several sun loungers.

There are some rides for really young children in this area of the park including a mini car and boat ride. Speaking of area for younger children there is a whole "Children's World" area which is by far the biggest playground I've ever seen and puts anything from Disney to shame. Lastly, you can catch the train and monorail which go around the park from the German area.

Italy:
In Part 1 I mentioned how the entrance to Italy was the holding area for the rest of the park, but there are also numerous attractions here too.

The outdoor attraction here is Volo da Vinci which is an interesting concept. The idea is that you are sat in a Da Vinci designed flying machine.



The ride takes you on a panoramic tour of the German area of the park, over the smaller kids attractions. By your feet you will find bicycle pedals which you can use to move faster. If you don't pedal at all you will still move albeit at a slower pace.

We seem to have missed one of the rides in this area called Piccolo Mondo which translate to small world, but is nothing like the Disney ride of the same name. This is a dark ride going past scenes to do with Italy. This, I guess, is a testament as to how well integrated the rides were into the facades as we didn't see the show buildings at all in this area and completely missed the ride.

I was hugely intersted to see Europa Park's version of Phantom Manor - or Haunted Mansion - which is called Ghost Castle. I had heard it was a poor Disney ripoff. As we went in, I was startled by how dark the actually show building was - it was almost pitch black and I couldn't see a thing.

The first room was a room with paintings in it, just like in Disney's stretch room the doors closed and a series of paintings began to stretch. Except these ones were much less family friendly. I remember us all laughing at one of them. Just like at Disney there is a hanging in this scene, except here a doll is hanged just above the guests heads and not in the rafters.



The main ride itself an omni-mover style system with a few nods to Disney's ride including a clone of the singing busts scene. But most of the ride was just a collection of every single haunted house effect stacked next to each other from pop up ghosts to an electric chain. The ride lasted reasonably long but it was all quite repetitive with no storyline whatsoever mainly it is overall as I had predicted "a poor Disney ripoff".

Switzerland:
Before we knew it, we had entered Switzerland - again a very nicely themed area. Everything here felt quite small and quaint. I was quite surprised to see that one area even had a stream going from a tap down the cobbled streets just like it would in a small village - a nice touch which I saw used a few more times in the park that just gives it a sense of realism.


The three rides here include a spinning plane ride which is a basic, but fun, fairground-style ride; Matterhorn Blitz a fun wild-mouse style coaster with a unique lift hill that I wasn't expecting and some serious speed; and Swiss Bob Run is a bobsled ride. The bobsled was rather unimpressive.

Greece:
The Greek area of the park features some beautiful theming, and is a stop of the EP-Express monorail. Atlantis Adventure is a shooting dark ride like Buzz but themed to sea creatures. It was fun though the guns had a very short wire, and the sound effect used for each shot was annoying and repetitive. This was a forgettable attraction to be honest. Flight of Icarus is a standard spinning ride.

Cassandra's Curse is a spinning room/mad house type ride like I had previously ridden at Park Asterix. The problem here was that the room felt way too small and therefore things didn't really work in terms of scale, though the addition of air jets here was a nice touch. If it weren't for someone else in the group, I would have completely missed the entrance for this as it is so small and unremarkable.

Pegasus is a family rollercoaster that can be compared to the Barnstormer at Disney world. We waited a good 10 minutes for this one due to the fact there was only one train running. Well, it still counts as a coaster credit so there you go.



Finally, the flagship ride in this area of the park is Poseidon, a combination of a water ride and a rollercoaster. It is actually quite fun, featuring two drops though the coaster section of the ride is rough. This isn't one of the rides that will get you drenched, however. The temple theming (left of frame) was incredible both inside and out.

England:
This area of the park very much resembles EPCOT's idea of the United Kingdom and features much of the same kind of architecture, though this version is larger. This is a stop on the the train which goes around the park.



England features several small attractions including Water Lane, a walkthrough area with water jets; as well as London Bus and Crazy Taxi which are themed kids fairground-style rides.



There is also a large creation of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre that hosts a live show. We did not get round to watching this.


One unique attraction is Queen's Diamonds which is a (very) short laser maze where you must go through in under 1 minute avoiding the lasers in order to steal the Queen's Diamonds. This sounded good from the exciting music that played inside and it is a one-person-at-a-time experience. It was fun but ultimately there were only three lasers to avoid in a short section which can be done in under 20 seconds realistically. You get scored based on how quickly and accurately you make it through. It mustn't have been an expensive addition, and it was not hugely impressive but it was a fun unique idea that was memorable.

Finally, in this area you will also find a carrousel, a paid-for shooting gallery and a car driving experience like Autopia called Silverstone race track.

We've still only taken a look at about a third of the park's experiences so far. Check out Part 3 for a look at some unique attractions and restaurants.
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