I left early on Sunday morning from the Netherlands for the 7-day, 3-park, 2-fair trip. The first stop would be Europa Park, and when I arrived, it was pretty busy. The park closed at 19:30, when I went to the restaurant for a very nice dinner, that can best be described as “top-notch”. The coach arrived from Britain later that evening after which a fair few of us went to the bar on the top floor of the hotel for chats, drinks and plain fun.
The next morning we had an early breakfast and met with Michael Kreft, who invited us for some exclusive park time. He escorted us through the exits of Euro-Mir (3 circuits), Poseidon (2 circuits), Euro Sat (2 circuits) and Matterhorn Blitz. We had lunch at the Baltasar Castle.
It is always great to return to Europa Park, from the moment you arrive it is as if you are covered by this huge blanket that says, “welcome”. The Mack family certainly know how to treat their guests. The park is truly an amazing place, having a great mix of rides, shows and attractions, great food and friendly staff.
Next day was Munich and Oktoberfest, something you just have to see to believe. Imagine tents three stories high with themed facades, as long as two football fields full (and I mean packed) with partying people eating and drinking (in the first weekend over one million litres of beer had been sold!)
After sampling a few rides, most notably the amazing StarWorld indoor spinner, Olympia Looping (amazingly smooth for a transportable) Euro Star (amazingly rough for a transportable) we went back to the hotel. The next morning we left Munich for Italy.
Mirabilandia was certainly better than expected and the park has a great feel to it, with nicely themed areas, good rides, food and shows. We were welcomed by the park’s PR with a stunning breakfast buffet after which we had an hour on Katun (amazing ride, very good pacing, nicely themed, probably as good as Montu).
Sierra Tonante is a good woodie, a bit shaky down the first drop, and one vicious turn where you think it should really be going straight on.
Then off to Gardaland, I had expected a lot of this park and it really did not deliver. OK, it looks very nice, with impressive landscaping and some of the rides are very good, but quite honestly we had seen it all in three short hours.
Some of the themed areas look stunning. The Mexican/Aztec themed river rapids is easliy one of the best looking ever. The ride is fun, with some sprays here and there, which can be adjusted for the weather. However right next to the ride is Blue Tornado, a Vekoma SLC. Its Top Gun theming is in itself quite nicely done, but next to an Aztec Temple and a Volcano, it looks very much out of place.
Overall it was a great trip, highlights certainly were Europa Park and Mirabilandia and meeting up with old and new friends.
“Many Thanks” to all who had anything to do with the arrangements for “The Italian Job.” It was a first class trip in all respects. The rides were good, our hosts were most generous and the accommodation was clean and comfortable. The trip proved a good mix of fairs and parks showing the “Brits” how it should be done. (We have a lot to learn in all areas).
I hope that everyone else had a great time, Claire and I certainly did. Although I would have preferred a little less time on the coach, but it was all worthwhile for the trip, as we visited three very good parks; two good fairs and saw some very nice scenery.
It was nice to get back to Europa Park and finally stay in the hotel, which was excellent! I had been to Europa Park last year so only the Globe Theatre, Poseidon and Kassandra (Haunted Swing) were new to me. The Globe Theatre is a good reproduction of the original Shakespeare theatre. The new Greek area includes Kassandra, a good haunted swing, and Poseidon, a superb Mack Water Coaster. The theming is excellent, and the coaster elements separate it from other water rides with swooping drops and banked turns that add a lot to the thrill of the ride which does NOT soak you! There was work going on to theme the ride between the station and the first lift, and the Greek village still needed to be done.
Stuttgart fair was very good and we had free rides on Alpina Bahn and enough time to sample the other rides and beer. This seemed to be a better ride fair than Oktoberfest. Rides there included a double Wild Mouse, Wild Wasser 3 (large log flume), two big wheels, dark rides, walk throughs, a Maurer power tower and numerous spin rides.
Oktoberfest was smaller than usual this year as an agricultural fair was being held next to it. I only sampled four rides and two beer tents; Jumping (Huss Jump one of the better ones), Star World (good as ever), Olympia Looping (ditto) and Fighter (Mondial Swinger upon which I saw people being sick on almost every ride). Other rides included Wild Mouse, Sound Factory (suspended Polyp style ride but the gondolas are no longer able to rotate through 360 degrees) Flying Carpet, ghost trains, spin rides and a bar that was on a rotating platform.
Mirabilandia was a nice park with some good rides; Katun, Sierra Tonante, Space Shot and Turbo Drop, car themed Log Flume, Wild Mouse, and a wet splash down. Katun was excellent in a well themed Mayan area, the ride is intense and well paced. Sierra Tonante was a good woodie, again a well paced ride with harsh brakes at the end. The Turbo Drop was the first that I have done and what a ride! Other coasters included a good Italian Mine Train, powered coaster and a Big Apple.
Gardaland was nice and home to Blue Tornado, an extended Vekoma SLC with the extra helix. Other coasters included a large Big Apple style coaster and a Vekoma double loop double corkscrew coaster. Other rides included a strange cable car where you stood up in a basket, a well themed Rapids and Log Flume, a viewing tower, a small themed Giant Drop, a motion base cinema, an excellent Egyptian style dark ride and another excellent pirate style water ride. Due to planning problems, the latter three rides are all underground.
I would like to go back and do the parks and fairs again sometime soon, but I would not dash back to Oktoberfest. OK it was good and worth doing but there are better fairs in Germany; Stuttgart, Bremen and Düsseldorf of the ones that I have been to. But Oktoberfest is one of those things that you need to do at least once in your life to experience it.
The journeys through Austria and Switzerland took us though some picturesque spots; Brenner Pass, Europa Bridge and a 17km tunnel.
Thanks to all involved for a great trip. Thanks also to Werner Stengel and the Bruchs for their hospitality.
This was our first trip to Europa Park, a park that has become a regular on our trip schedule now. It was also timed to take in both the Stuttgart Fair, and Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest is a fair that, while packed with rides, is not that enjoyable due to the crowds. It is something that everyone should ideally do once in his or her lifetime though.
The trip then pushed south into Italy – we’d followed the construction of Katun at Mirabilandia, so we knew we had to go there at some point.
We did learn from this trip that the distance travelled – it was entirely a coach trip – was just too much. After this we started to fly on bigger trips. It adds little cost to the overall price, but you save on the coach price, and maybe even an extra night in a hotel.