Travel Note

19th July 2019

My draft itinerary for this evening featured four small funfairs along a 160km stretch of the French coast stretching from Perpignan through to Montpellier. The plan was tight but achievable; the predicted drive time between stops was just over ninety minutes, and advertised opening hours of 8:00pm to 1:00am gave me more than enough slack time to tick off my credits.

The proverbial spanner in the works hit a few days before my trip when a fellow enthusiast touring the area reported a whole bunch of new coasters. After some wrangling with my GPS it became clear that there was no way to do everything that she'd found in a single evening, but dropping Lunapark Carnon enabled two additional stops, bringing the total for the night to five. I would have been more than happy with that, but the coaster gods were evidently smiling on me, as I spotted a sixth hit from the road that I was able to knock off in ten minutes flat.

 

L'ile Aux Enfants

19th July 2019

L'ile Aux Enfants is a small amusement park that occupies a 3200 square metre plot of land adjacent to a main road in Toreilles, roughly ten kilometres outside Perpignan. The place is focused almost exclusively on younger visitors; as of this writing the only attractions open to adults are a Ferris Wheel and Western Train (#2710), the sole Alan Herschell Little Dipper in Europe. The ride proved to be unexpectedly lively; a drop into a left turn with no banking to speak of delivered strong laterals, followed in short order by a pop of airtime as the train clattered over a small hill. My €2 ticket entitled me to five laps in the front seat.

Western Train

 

Lunapark de Barcares

19th July 2019

Eleven years ago a friend and I accidentally discovered a classic Schwarzkopf Wildcat at Lunapark de Barcares. The Roller Coaster operated on and off for at least fifteen years, first at the southern edge of the park, and subsequently on the western edge. Sadly it closed unexpectedly part way through last season, implying that something serious had gone wrong, and whatever it was may well have been terminal; the ride was gone today, its space repurposed for a Log Flume.

The park was slowly coming to life when I arrived at around 8:15pm, and though no rides were actually open staff members could be seen performing startup tasks. The shutter was down on the coaster pay box, but I spotted someone working on the other machine on my hit list: a pristine Schwarzkopf Bayern Kurve with Olympic theming. I was perhaps twenty metres away when the lighting package was turned on, and was just about to prepare some money when the owner headed off in the direction of his caravan. Sadly he hadn't rematerialised three quarters of an hour later when the time came for me to depart.

In due course I made my way to King Dragon (#2711), a Levent Lunapark Super Dragon that premiered at La Récré des 3 Curés in 2014. Its stay there was unusually short; though the precise date of removal is unclear it had certainly been taken out by the end of the 2015 season. The ride looked in pristine condition today, and it was riding well with a lengthy eight lap programme.

 

Myster Park

19th July 2019

I was five minutes into my drive north when I spotted the coloured lights of a fairground from the road, and I decided that it was worth making a brief detour to investigate. It turned out that I'd spotted Myster Park, a summer funfair in Port Leucate that was the temporary home for a small powered Dragon. The programme in use tonight was ridiculously long; though it didn't occur to me to count I'm quite sure that I was given over twenty laps.

Dragon

 

Pirat Parc

19th July 2019

It was shortly before 10:00pm when I arrived at an extremely crowded Pirat Parc. All of the officially designated spaces in the parking lot were full, but enterprising locals were creating their own and I decided that I might as well do the same. The only trick was to identify a location where I wouldn't be boxed in, given that I wasn't planning to stay all that long. That proved harder than it should have been, but in due course I found somewhere and made my way through the gate.

The new ride for me was Cars, a so-called Roller Coaster Dark Ride from Italian manufacturer EOS Rides. The layout, which is powered from start to end, features a spiral lift followed by an oval-shaped descending helix that can be themed to customer requirements. My only previous encounter with the type was in Korea when the cycle consisted of two forgettable laps in which the train barely picked up much speed. Today looked like being more of the same, but there was a twist; on the second lap we came to a halt inside a tunnel, and a blind rolled up revealing a police car with sirens blaring. Candy-scented dry ice fogged the air as the train tilted perhaps thirty degrees to the right for a few seconds. The experience was certainly a novelty, if not one with much staying power; I decided against going back for a second round.

With my primary target complete I headed for the Gold Mine, a custom Reverchon family coaster that I'd enjoyed on my last visit to the park back in 2008. The ride was open, but the lengthy queue was moving very slowly indeed, and after a few minutes in line I decided to abort. I burned my spare tokens on the Big Apple then headed to the exit.

 

Saint-Pierre-La-Mer

19th July 2019

My fifth stop was at Saint-Pierre-La-Mer, a seaside resort town located about ten kilometres north-east of Pirat Parc. An eighty thousand square metre temporary event space can be found adjacent to the beach, and for the last few years around ten percent of it has been given over to a carnival during the summer months. The sole target of interest for me was La Pomme (#2712), which tonight was operating with a three lap cycle.

Pomme

 

Parc d'Attractions Marseillan-Plage

19th July 2019

It was almost midnight when I arrived at Parc d'Attractions Marseillan-Plage, and it was obvious that I was moving against the tide; a slow but steady trickle of guests were leaving as I made my way through the gate, and I had no trouble finding somewhere to park my car.

I decided to head directly to Tattoo (#2713), a Cedeal Rides spinning coaster and my third encounter with the type. The ride features an elaborate theming package like its brothers, but sadly the overall experience is ruined by decidedly mediocre tracking. Tonight the comfort level was akin to driving over potholes with worn suspension, and though it wasn't exactly painful it also wasn't something to be done more than once. In order to finish my night on a happier note I went for a lap on Roller Coaster, which was enjoyable if somewhat less airtime laden than I remembered.