Holiday Park put itself on the enthusiast map three years ago with the installation of Expedition GeForce (#321), a ride considered by many enthusiasts to be one of the best roller coasters on this planet. The ride itself is certainly stunning, but it loses a lot of marks in my book due to the incredible inefficiency demonstrated by the staff. The single operational train was being dispatched around once every eight minutes during our exclusive session, giving a capacity of no more than two hundred people per hour. This would be bad enough with members of the public, but it is utterly ridiculous when the people trying to board have plenty of experience in securing their own restraints.
The park's other coaster was the first ever Corkscrew with Bayerncurve ride from Vekoma, and while it may have been a good ride twenty five years ago it most certainly isn't now. Super Wirbel (#322) had the dubious honour of being the only coaster this week that my brother did not enjoy, mostly because it left him (and indeed the rest of us) with several bruises. The best bit of the ride was when the train hit the brake run, allowing all on board to breath a sigh of relief that it was over.
With the coasters done we made our way over to the water rides. The Teufelsfässer flume was surprisingly lengthy, taking the better part of five minutes to cover a course with two turntables, a backwards drop, and a double-down forward drop to finish. Once again it wasn't Heide Park, but it'd hold its own against any other comparison. The Donnerfluss rapids again wasn't a patch on yesterday, but it was still reasonably enjoyable. George was waiting for us as we went round the ride, and attempted to throw a few cups of water at us; instead, however, he it several random locals in the same boat who were not terribly amused. Needless to say there was no sign of him afterwards!
The Burg Falkenstein dark ride fits broadly into the category of a ghost train. Having said that, it features several scenes with would never pass the censors in less open minded countries. It was perhaps for this reason that we spent most of our time on board messing around with cameras rather than paying close attention to what we were seeing. We finished up the morning with two back to back rides on the Free Fall Tower.
29th July 2004
I'm going to begin my trip report for Europa Park with a paragraph about their latest hotel, the Colosseo. As the name suggests it features a partially ruined replica of the colosseum as its centrepiece. The attention to detail in the theming is startling in places, with all the rooms being done up to look like something out of a history book. There are a few modern touches mind; the courtyard area features a synchronised set of jumping fountains with a musical score which would not be out of place in Las Vegas. Additionally, one doubts that flat screen televisions were common place in ancient Rome.
Andrew, having spent the better part of the week winding up certain members, finally got his pay back in grand style by being thrown, fully clothed, into the swimming pool. This was for some people the highlight of the day; I've never seen eighty people with cameras charge in the direction of a swimming pool before. There will apparently be a special section of the trip DVD devoted to this very moment. Andrew was, of course, absolutely delighted with all the attention, though oddly enough he didn't offer to help me get his clothes dry again.
After a brief rest, the group made its way into the park for a few hours to see how many coasters we could tick off. Our first stop was at my first water coaster. Poseidon (#323) is a hybrid of a log flume and a roller coaster, with several coaster drops and helices blended in with two splash sections which have been carefully designed not to get the rider too wet. The queue time was over an hour despite a ridiculous number of boats on the ride and a dispatch interval of a boat every fifteen seconds, probably the best that can be achieved. As it was efficient loading and throughput seemed to be very much a hallmark of this park. Later on in the evening, the park manager revealed that the park capacity is around fifty thousand people at any given time, though they have never had that many in a day. He pointed out that Silver Star has an actual capacity of 1750 people per hour, which is very impressive indeed for a full size hyper coaster, which compares very favourably indeed with the major ride this morning.
The most interesting feature of the Matterhorn Blitz (#324) coaster is a vertical lift which tilts its cars from side to side as it operates. From there on the ride is as near as matters a standard wild mouse ride, though it does at least have the benefit of some creative theming. The ride queue area passes through a farm house with a number of different animatronic scenes that really look the part.
The last ride we had time for this evening was Eurosat (#325), and thanks to park management we were allowed to ride with the lights on. Oddly enough this enclosed coaster is significantly more thrilling with its lights on because riders can see just how close some of the clearances actually are. It was also very interesting to see the unique rotating lift system, which consists of a large rotating drum towing up several trains at a time, stacked one above another. I could see at least two trains being lifted at the same time as ours, one above and one below (and I suspect there may have been more). Without the lights on I would have had no idea.
After the park closed we headed back to the hotel, where we received a brief presentation from the general manager. He showed us some footage of the park and some stunts run as a marketing campaign, for example the Silver Star Quiz, where a contestant answers quiz questions while a front seat passenger on Silver Star; very entertaining, to say the least. He also touched briefly on an accident that had occurred on Euro Mir during the day. He explained that two trains had collided due to operator error following a power failure; a highly unusual situation. He expressed hope that it would be running again for us tomorrow after the TUV had had a chance to rerun their safety tests.