Le Pal

29th June 2014

My first trip to Le Pal just over eight years ago was marred by a planning error that left me very short of time in an unexpected gem of a park. I was determined not to repeat my mistake, and as such my itinerary today gave me the option of staying until closing time if necessary. As things turned out I didn't need that long, but I'd still advise any enthusiast visiting this park to allow an absolute minimum of four hours.


Only one of the six car parks was in use today, which I took to be a good sign until I arrived at the main entrance to discover at least five hundred people queueing to buy tickets. I'd just psyched myself up enough to join the back of the scrum when my eye was drawn to some ticket machines to the right of the gate that nobody seemed to inclined to use. Nonplussed, I wandered over to one, inserted my card, tapped the "English" button, and purchased a ticket in less than thirty seconds without having to negotiate in broken French.

It was fifteen minutes after the scheduled opening time by the time I made it through the gate. Despite this, morning safety checks had yet to be completed on any of the three roller coasters, and lengthy queues had formed in front of each. Rather than join one right away I decided to take advantage of the clear blue sky to take a few photographs. I spent the better part of an hour walking through the entire ride area and most of the zoo, taking extra time to admire a baby elephant that barely came up to the knees of its parents, as well as a particularly cross-looking baboon.

In due course I made my way to Twist (#2064), a spinning coaster constructed three years ago as part of a substantial expansion to the north of the park. Coasters from Mack Rides rarely disappoint, and this one was great, with the train of free spinning cars delivering an intense and thoroughly disorientating ride. There wasn't much of a difference between front and back of the train, with both being equally thrilling, and efficient operations kept the queue moving.

I've previously written about Azteca, a superbly themed terrain coaster from Soquet. It was perhaps telling that the longest wait of the day could be found here, with a fairly steady three quarter hour line despite the staff keeping the trains moving at maximum throughput. My first ride was a somewhat bumpy back seat, but I followed that up with a front seat that was fantastic despite the person next to me having forgotten to wear deodorant. I particularly liked the fact that almost the entire ride was hidden from the midway.


The queue for Tigre de Siberie didn't look awful at first glance, despite it stretching outside of the designated area. Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that operations were sluggish at best, with the fastest dispatch I saw coming over five minutes after the previous one. Worse yet, there was someone smoking in the queue line, something that seems to be socially acceptable in France. My previous review of the ride ("unremarkable to the extreme") was perhaps a little harsh, but even from the back seat this coaster was average at best, being short and not terribly exciting.

The clouds had been darkening all morning and let go in spectacular fashion shortly after I disembarked. The coasters remained open, but rather than get soaked I decided to take the hint and head for my next stop.


Parc des Combes

29th June 2014

The clear skies and sunshine had returned by the time I arrived at an empty Parc des Combes. Given the lack of queues I contemplated purchasing an all-in ride pass, but there were really only two rides I wanted to do, and the break-even point was six. I took my time at the top of the Alpine Coaster in order to maximize my chances of a clean run to the bottom, but I need not have bothered; the small child in the car in front of me, apparently an enthusiast in training, was already on his way back up the lift hill by the time I'd hit the end course brakes.

I was the only person riding the Boomerang (#2065), so I decided to take the front right hand seat. The outbound journey was forceful, but the return felt decidedly weak, something I noted with another model a few years ago. The most interesting feature of the ride was a three second pause at the apex prior to the initial drop, allowing this passenger time to savour the spectacular view.


Foire Saint-Jean à Strasbourg

29th June 2014

Coaster enthusiasts have a tendency towards hyperbole when describing rides that only a minority in the community have been able to experience. This has the unfortunate side effect of casting scepticism over any positive review of an obscure credit, especially a travelling model that is difficult at best to track down. Be that as it may, I'm going to risk a little credibility here by speaking my mind on a truly outstanding coaster.

Super Railway

Super Railway (Paillet) (#2066) has been touring the French fair circuit for many years under a variety of different owners. It operates four seater cars with inline seating and no restraints at all, the latter being the key differentiator that turns what would already be a good ride into an outstanding one. The track work is completely smooth, with no jolts whatsoever, an impressive achievement for any travelling coaster, and a remarkable one for a ride that doesn't appear to originate from a mainstream manufacturer.

The layout begins with two decent if somewhat understated drops, both of which feature anti-rollbacks as the train climbs out of them with minimal speed to spare. The interesting portion starts with a descending helix that leads directly to a powerful drop that throws riders into the air, and after a turnaround two more airtime hills do the same thing. Each one of these had me grabbing at the bar on the side of the car to keep myself on board, giving a far better sense of being out of control than anything else I've ridden in recent years. The reader is encouraged to watch a POV video to judge for themselves; the key moments are at 1:05, 1:15, and 1:18.

The fair also had two more coasters, both of which were relocations for me; Big Apple (Naisse) and Goulis (Coppier), the latter afflicted augmented by a fog machine spraying the scent of candy across the main drop. I also rode the Giant Wheel for some overhead photographs, though these were somewhat limited by a large building placed inconveniently in the middle of the fairground.