We arrived at Parc Ange Michel a few minutes prior to opening, and joined one of the three queues for admission tickets. The shutters at each window were closed, but it we could see rides completing their early morning test runs so we figured that things would come to life soon enough. One minute after the appointed time two of the three windows opened and those lines began to move forward, much to the consternation of those who'd made the mistake of waiting in the third one. One of the unfortunates there began to complain loudly in colourful terms, his tone becoming more and more agitated as time went on, albeit to no effect; it was almost ten minutes later when the third window opened, leaving a subset of park guests disenfranchised even before they walked through the gate.
Our first stop was at Tornado (#2361), a Zamperla-built spinning coaster that was new for the 2013 season. The ride was being run with a full complement of cars that were being dispatched at the maximum rate that the blocking system would allow, but bizarrely most were going out with just the two middle seats occupied, with the corresponding hit to capacity. We ended up in the left hand pair of the pink car, and we enjoyed some good spinning punctuated by fairly regular thumps as some of the track joins were not as good as they might have been. We decided that the English language lacked a suitable word to describe the sensation, and coined a new one for the purpose: clatterals.
We decided to do the 7D Cinema on impulse as the previous showing was emptying out as we approached. This was a good move; in a world where the same movies appear in parks worldwide we were treated to one we hadn't seen before. Rats Race featured tiny creatures powering their way around around an elaborately designed race track set up around a house, with open sections and more enclosed portions inside walls. The high speed nature of the movie was reflected in the enormous amount of seat movement, far more than would be usual for this type of attraction and enough to justify the obligatory seat belts that an operator manually checked. All the other effects were there too, including air bursts and water splashes.
Our next stop was at Tacot en Folie, a family coaster that my 2008 report described as mediocre. This description remains entirely on the money for a ride that, to be blunt, isn't one of Soquet's finer efforts; though the tracking is smooth the ride is quite simply dull, consisting of a couple of slow turns that do very little. We did laps from the front seat and from second-to-back for purposes of comparison, and there was no perceptible difference in forces between the two. The only slight mitigating factor was the fact that the ride is one of the three oldest Soquet coasters still in operation, having premiered in 1987 at Fraispertuis City.
The star attraction at the park and the highlight of our morning ended up being the superb Zamperla-built Flash Tower, a clone of the magnificent machine we enjoyed at Dennly's Parc earlier in the year with the same impressive blast of airtime at the apex. The ride was constructed inside a themed building and augmented with a basic fire effect timed with the initial upward launch. The view from the apex was superb, and there was no issue holding a camera allowing us to capture some spectacular overhead shots. We rode three times, and could easily have gone back for more.
The park is set on a hillside, and the Ferme d'Angy lies close to the bottom, some five minutes walk downhill from the main ride area (and thus five minutes uphill again when the time comes to leave). The park operates a shuttle tram for the terminally lazy, though we decided we'd walk in the interest of burning off a few calories. There was a Zamperla Barnyard next to the entrance that we decided to skip, concentrating instead on the cows, rabbits, pigs, goats, and baby ducks. Though I'm no connoisseur I'm given to understand that the exhibit was disappointing compared to the one we'd enjoyed at La Coccinelle as the cows evidently had no interest in contact with humans.
Parc du Bocasse
7th August 2017
In 2010 my trip report from Parc du Bocasse lamented the fact that many of the guests queuing for tickets were apparently compelled to wax lyrical with the staff on everything from the weather to their favourite flavours of soup. We were never likely to encounter the same problem with a mid-afternoon arrival, and indeed we arrived at the park today to an almost completely deserted entrance building, with the sole person in the area being a maintenance worker. The shutters on the cash desks were closed, but we spotted a whole row of multilingual automatic ticket machines. The first of these rejected all four of my credit cards, but the second was in a better mood, dispensing the required paperwork in exchange for €16.80 apiece.
It's worth pausing just briefly to comment on the abstruse prices that we've encountered at several European parks over the last few months. Rather than round the prices to the nearest Euro it seems almost standard policy for prices to end in random amounts of cents, exponentially increasing the effort level for those paying in cash and necessitating large quantities of change on-site. While I've largely made the move to Apple Pay over the last few months (which I love) there are parks out there that will only accept cash and a whole bunch more that have trouble with non-local cards even with chip and pin. In this day and age it would surely be more sensible to run with a round number; are people that price sensitive that they'd pay €16.80 but not €17?
The park has recently completed the largest expansion in its history with the addition of a substantial new dinosaur-themed area on the opposite side of the road from its original land bank. The investment is anchored by Splash O Saure, a large custom flume from Soquet that premiered in June, as well as Jurassic Twister (#2362), another Zamperla spinning coaster. The latter was, to be blunt, a fairly poor effort; the tracking was even more clunky than the version we'd ridden a few hours earlier, and each block brake segment brought the car to nearly a dead halt. The park would have done far better with a Reverchon original, though presumably that wasn't an option for them given that the Samois-sur-Seine factory didn't resume fabrication until 2016.
We walked across a bridge, past the old entrance buildings, and over to Speedy Gonzales. It was interesting to see the queue running parallel to the base of the lift hill with only a rudimentary barrier that would present no obstacle to a misbehaving child, something that would not be seen in other parts of the world (Russia notwithstanding). We waited perhaps three cycles for our ride, and managed to score a back seat as those in front of us chose seats further forward. The experience was definitely at the family coaster level, but our two circuits were pleasant enough. After disembarking we joined a handful of other people on the similarly exposed exit ramp where we waited a cycle to capture a few photographs without being yelled at by a paranoid operator.
Our next stop was at Tren de la Mine, which was by some margin the best coaster of the day. The layout wasn't particularly lengthy or aggressive, consisting of two descending helices punctuated by some gentle hills that took about forty-five seconds to negotiate, but it was perfectly smooth and the wide seats allowed quite a bit of sliding as the train went around corners. Today riders were only given a single lap, and while we contemplated going back for a second we were beginning to run short of time and decided that exploring the park in full took precedence.
We ended up burning most of our time in Apiland, a substantial dark ride housed in a twelve hundred square metre shed at the back of the park. The stars of the show were hundreds of animatronic bees in a variety of interesting locations, notably a funfair which featured a magic carpet, a ferris wheel, a giant slide, and even a wooden roller coaster. Another scene looked like the inside of a mine filled with hundreds of worker bees (!) complete with hard hats. Sadly the sound system in our car was in an advanced state of non-functionality; I rather suspect that silly music would have proved to be the icing (or should that perhaps be honey?) on the cake.