I didn’t miss the bus this time around. I actually went to Discount Disneyland, also known as Europa Park.
As usual, let’s start with a quick rundown and some background. Europa Park is a legendary theme park in ‘scenic’ Rust, Germany. Population: 3,723. This village just so happens to be just across the border, only a thirty minute drive Southeast of Strasbourg. Now, I had bought my ticket to Europa Park two weeks ago. However, I overslept and missed the bus, hence I had to reschedule.
Well, myself and a few friends finally got around to going to Europa Park, and let me tell you, it wasn’t too bad. Sure, the blatant ripping off of Disney was apparent—I mean, seriously, their mascot is a anthropomorphic mouse—but other than that, it was pretty on point. Europa Park, unsurprisingly, is a park based on Europe. Just like how Disneyworld has different ‘sectors’ of their park (Epcot, Magic Kingdom, etc.), Europa Park had different countries. For example, France had a mini Champs Elysées, Iceland had Viking themed rollercoasters and Austria…Austria had a giant mushroom.
Yes, a mushroom. One with swings attached to its cap. Once seated on a swing, the giant mushroom would increase in height and spin rapidly, sending the park goers flying in the air. It was actually quite fun, although I had no idea why it had anything to do with Austria. Also, I think this is the only instance I could tell someone I had flown on a mushroom without sounding completely high.
Anyway, there were a myriad of neat rides and attractions, not to mention that Halloween decorations were everywhere. Their damn Epcot ripoff was turned into a giant pumpkin. I may not get to celebrate Halloween in Europe, but at least I had a semblance of Halloween this past weekend.
The highlight of this tour, of course, were the rollercoasters. Now, I had brought along my friend Max, who had never even been on a rollercoaster before. He was deathly afraid of them. So, obviously we had to take him on a ride. Specifically on the giant, wooden roller coaster in the Iceland part of the park: the WODAN TIMBUR COASTER. That’s timber with a U. And Odin with a W and an A. Because Germany.
Just like any other popular park, the lines were awful. We spent easily a little over an hour in line for that damn coaster alone. But, to Europa Park’s credit, we were never bored in line. The attention to detail in the exhibits was intense. We weren’t just queued up for a coaster, no, we were taken on a nordic adventure, awaiting our entrance to Valhalla. Everything from the music playing to the stone statues of Norse gods screamed adventure, social-democracy and Skyrim. But, mostly Skyrim. However, the verisimilitude was occasionally broken by their sponsors, MUSTANG Jeans.
Every couple hundred feet there were stone slabs, inscribed with trivia and questions on Norse mythology. Neat, right? Well, interspersed between them were corporate slabs espousing MUSTANG Jeans. Each marketing slab had an internal television screen, playing sexy denim commercials on a loop. To their credit though, the sales pitches on these slabs followed the same epic tone and manner of writing as the actual historical slabs. Which, to be honest, was a mix of amusing and painfully odd.
By the time we finally got to the top of the wooden mountain that was the WODAN TIMBUR COASTER (All caps, because, once again, Germany), my excitement was at a fever pitch. Strapping in next to my bud Sam, we went on a lightning fast trip, winding and weaving through a labyrinth of wooden pilons and Norse imagery. By the end of the harrowing journey, I was pumped. Oh, and did I mention that this coaster intertwined with two other roller coasters? It was wild.
But, let’s not forget poor Max. The guy looked traumatized after that adventure. Taking him on a ludicrously fast wooden coaster was probably not the best ‘first-time’ experience.
Back to the Europa Park story, however. We later went on Blue Fire, a so-called megacoaster in the Iceland area. To be honest, they really skimped on the cool waiting-in-line experience for this one…although they had the fantastic business idea of putting a snack shop halfway through the line. Absolutely brilliant. Whoever came up with that deserves a raise.
After yet another hour of waiting, we were brought to the housing dock for the coaster. Unlike the previous coaster, this one didn’t have traditional ‘carts’. Instead, it had upright seats, which were attached together in a line. Each seat was modeled like a space ship cockpit, with a lap bar and a panel for which to place your hands. Gripping the panel bars, it would give you your heart rate on its central interface. Neat, right?
The ride commenced with us being sent slowly into a tunnel, meant to look like a rocket’s acceleration chamber. Eventually, we came to a stop at the mouth of the exit. There was just a straight, flat length of rail ahead of us. There wasn’t even an incline like in most coasters, to help with the initial drop. Before I could make much sense of it, blue smoke entered the chamber and a German countdown sounded. Drei. Zwei. Eine. An alarm went off. Immediately, I was buffeted back as the coaster rocketed out of the chamber, accelerating ridiculously fast.
Within moments, we were sent through the massive loop. Holding on for dear life and heart rate spiking, I had the precious feeling of weightlessness at the apex of the loop. It was absolutely marvelous. What followed afterwords was an adrenaline inducing series of corkscrews, inverted inclines and other gravity defying exercises. By the time we came to a final stop, my hair was awry and my hands were shaking. But it didn’t matter, because I was utterly pumped.
So, yeah, Blue Fire was pretty cool. There were a series of other, less interesting rides and attractions we went on, but I’ll finish this little exposé with one last horrifying anecdote: The Matterhorn Coaster. This coaster was in the Swiss themed area. It was small, but made up for that by being quick, self-contained and absolutely insane. Waiting in line was a special sort of horror: unlike the other line waiting ‘experiences’, this one featured creepy Swiss animatronics and grating, traditional Swiss music. Minutes turned into hours as I was assaulted by a Swiss instrument of torture: their culture. By the end of the line, I was ready to bomb Switzerland back to the stone-age.
At least the roller coaster wasn’t too bad. Easily a 6.5/10.
Soon after, I left Europa Park for good and returned to Alsace, a changed man. The Swiss may haunt me to the end of my days, but hey, at least the rides were sweet.
Oh and did I mention we met a creepy man with a soul patch?