The last day of our adventure began at Babyland-Amiland, a family-friendly amusement park located roughly half an hour’s drive from Paris-Orly Airport. The park is owned by former showman Xavier Lapère who operated rides on the French fair circuit for many years, notably an original Schwarzkopf Jet Star that was a staple of the Foire du Trône for decades. Jet was repainted and assembled at Babyland-Amiland in 2018, but has yet to open in its new home.
We began our exploration with Bûche Dansante (#2998), a three ‘loop” SBF spinning coaster that opened to the public in October 2018 less than a month after my last visit to the park. The standard model ride was never likely to rewrite my top coaster list, but it was still a fun way to pass a few minutes. I've now ticked off twelve of the seventeen operational examples out there; as of this writing I'm missing one in Armenia, one in Brazil, one in the Philippines, and two in the United States.
We were in line for the Grande Roue when we were spotted and greeted by Flavian, the park’s friendly and enthusiastic communication manager. He was obviously excited to have English-speaking coaster enthusiasts in his park, and ended up spending around an hour with us talking about all manner of things, both park related and otherwise. One of the first questions we asked was about the delay in commissioning the Jet. It turns out that the ride is mechanically fine and could be operated tomorrow without issue. However, the existing control system is entirely manual, and management is concerned that this could lead to an accident in the event that an operator was to become distracted. Conversations are underway with Reverchon to see if it might be possible to automate, but this work isn’t expected to happen quickly. (Monsieur Lapère is of the view that people are less careful than they were in times past; he told us that he explicitly requested extra-tall plexiglass shields for the Grand Roue to enhance safety.)
We also learned about an interesting issue that had arisen with the Grosse Pomme during 2020. During a heavy storm a tree fell on the upper level of track adjacent to the apple, adding an additional and decidedly non-standard dip to the layout. While this might have entertained enthusiasts, the park decided it was best to replace the remodelled segment. Readers are invited to decide for themselves if this constitutes a new credit or not.
The most interesting piece of information we learned by several orders of magnitude related to the Jumbo Jet, a classic Schwarzkopf coaster that operated at Walibi Belgium from 1978-1991. Following its removal the ride was toured for a number of years by Monsieur Lapère, but was later placed in storage as it was costing too much to move. It has been in shipping containers at Babyland-Amiland for the last few years, and while there are no current plans to assemble it – the smaller Jet needs to be commissioned first – we did tell Monsieur Lapère that he wasn’t allowed to retire until he had both rides open together. (He suggested that we discuss this requirement with the Almighty.)
We were also able to look around the construction site for a 40m swing tower that is due to open later this year. The site includes elaborate theming that goes well beyond anything Babyland-Amiland has done before, including custom rock work and a waterfall. If the result is well received it’s entirely possible other areas of the park will be upgraded in the future. This is something that I’ll be watching with considerable interest.