Coaster Kingdom

Poseidon, Europa Park
Saturday, February 24, 2007

This article contains spoilers. If you read on, please be aware that surprises or secrets may be revealed in great depth

Poseidon was the son of Titans Cronus and Rhea, brother of Zeus and the husband of Amphitrite, one of the Nereids, by whom he had a son, Triton.

As the god of the sea, Poseidon is often mistaken for Neptune, the Roman god of the sea, and in art is represented as a bearded man, often holding a trident, accompanied by a dolphin.

Poseidon plays part in many ancient myths, including those of his affairs with nymphs of the springs and fountains resulting in his many and somewhat notorious sons such as Orion and Polyphemus, the Cyclops.

Predominantly, however, Poseidon spends many legends locked in battles with like-minded gods such as Athena, who he battled (unsuccessfully) for control of Greek capital Athens.

This was a battle of wit, not of brute force. Whoever could present the people of Athens with the most valuable gift would gain control. Whilst the cascading waterfalls of Poseidon were beautiful, the salty water from them was worthless in comparison to the Olive tree planted by Athena.

Unfortunately, many battles weren't as eloquent, often resulting in gratuitous death and destruction throughout.

With such colourful legends, it is surprising that not more parks have Greek themed areas. Something seems strangely apt by theming a wooden roller coaster after the thunder of Zeus (Tonnerre De Zeus, of course), and just as fitting is Poseidon, the second water coaster from Mack.

The first was Sea World Florida's Atlantis, themed - coincidentally - after the Greek city banished to the bottom of the sea. To compare the two is not as relevant as you may think, seeing that predominantly Atlantis is a log flume with a stretch of coaster track, whereas Poseidon is a roller coaster with a stretch of log flume.

The pathway around the intricately themed Greek area of Europa Park wraps around the beautiful dark blue lagoon, through which the majority of the boat section of Poseidon takes place.

Towards the back, a large cascading waterfall hides the bottom of the final drop, and every so often, a boat scathes through the middle, throwing implausible amounts of water away from its fibreglass hull and over a neighbouring pier stretching along the side of this element.

Behind a rocky horizon, the rich blue track and pale white supports criss-cross as the track goes through an almost contorted section of twists and turns before it drops down past the immense Greek temple that forms the station to this water coaster.

Often I say a station is large. Well, this is complete overkill, utterly contradicting every element of theme park mentality in the book. The masonry on this building is as spectacular as the ride, using solid carved rocks as opposed to breezeblocks covered in sprayed cement, using unyielding yet finely chiselled columns of rock to support the roof 40ft above. The gable ends are decorated with intricate carvings of the gods of Greek mythology and the entrance marked with flaming torches.

It could have been so easy to take the easy option and hide a tin shed like is the case even at Disney, but this building is the real McCoy. Why they don't think visitors are naive enough not to notice is beyond me, but what I do notice, moreover appreciate, is the attention to detail that is clearly absent from pretty much every other theme park worldwide.

The inside of the building is as rich a tapestry as the outside. A row of boats slice through the solid rock floor, Poseidon's enormous trident obliterating the far end, sparkling with power, smouldering at its point of impact.

The boats are identical to those on Valhalla, and are predominantly white, trimmed in varying colours per boat, including blue, teal, gold and red. The sides are re-assuringly high, considering the vast sea of H20 that your vessel will soon sail though.

As your boat approaches the end of this perpetually moving conveyor, you pass through a smashed image of Poseidon shrouded in a rolling red mist before you dip into the water outside.

Your boat slaloms through the ruins of a Greek city, destroyed by quarrelling gods and powers unbeknown to us mere mortals. Once glorious buildings have crumbled into the water, wooden trestles splintered beyond recognition.

A fine mist settles as you continue between the city walls, littered with the destroyed remains of sailing boats, be-headed statues of those who people honoured, fine masonry destroyed.

The boat is soon then lifted onto track via a conveyor belt as it rises to about 45ft. Without warning, gone is the relative comfort of water as the track throws your 'boat' into a arcing 110-degree swooping turn, dropping with surprising haste, regaining height and passing through some block-brakes.

With surprising ferocity, your wheeled craft is thrown into a plunging drop, pulling you to the side towards the ground below. After skimming the ground below, you climb to the side and through another set of brakes that make very little difference.

Once again, you are yanked out, to the side, before dipping down sharply and splashing down into the lagoon. As your boat becomes a boat once again, water is thrown away from the boat as the water level rises over the front and front seat riders get a lap full of water.

The pandemonium that prevailed is now a distant memory as you weave through the lagoon past the city wall which you are now on the outside of. As you approach the walkway that butts the end of the cove, you turn back towards the final, main drop.

Glance left and you see the pandemonium that ensued, the lift-hill climbing to the top of the contorted, curling drops. As you pass a wooden walkway, jutting out between you and the final drop, you begin the climb up the final lift.

The water is left at the bottom as you turn the 180-degree turn up top, once again on wheels. As the pace gets faster, the boat suddenly drops, heading towards a rocky tunnel, full of mist, through which it bursts.

With almost violent airtime, the boat climbs into a sharp bunny hop before splashing through the rolling white-water that forms the bottom of this spectacular drop.

Spray is thrown from the side as you pass through this short white-water section before dipping sharply into the lagoon, onlookers taking shelter as the wall of water is thrown skywards towards the quay to your right and the path to your left, and then, inevitably back onto the front seat riders.

As the boat slows, a final turn past the surrounding walkway takes you back into the fantastic station in which you leave to the left-hand side.

Poseidon excels in many aspects. Not only has the actual ride been improved on sister ride Atlantis by vastly extending it and adding far, far more coaster track, the theme is perfectly apt.

It is an epic show of events throughout and a perfectly evolving plot line that keeps your attention throughout.

It starts off with the fantastically themed and rather atmospheric remains of the Greek city, as you float round in an almost gentile Pirates of the Caribbean manner.

This is all a distant memory, however, once your boat is threaded onto the roller coaster track for a frantic session on the many curving turns and drops that make up the roller coaster section of the ride.

The roller coaster section of the ride is tightly packed and quite chaotic. As your boat is essentially a single roller coaster car, you don't get the feeling of shuffling often associated with swooping turns and multiple brakes which hold the back of the train.

The transition back into water is flawless. You almost forget you're on a coaster until in the blink of an eye you splash down. The slaloming log flume section through the lagoon is an opportunity to catch your breath. It isn't a dead spot, there is plenty to look at, including the final drop.

The final drop is glorious. The airtime sustained throughout is powerful and completely unexpected. The tunnel offers great visuals, and although front seat riders come off worse than anyone else, it isn't intolerably wet for the climate.

Although the ride itself is fantastically engineered for your enjoyment, it is the attraction as a whole that entertains with theming that is thorough, high quality but not intruding.

Should you not be up for riding, watching Poseidon is as much a spectator sport as Tidal Wave. The walkway to the entrance takes you over the final tunnel giving you a good idea of the main prose of the ride.

The splash is impressively vast, and as such, gets the surrounding pathway and the quay between the final lift and drop. Throughout, once again, theming is refreshingly real, sans chicken wire and sprayed concrete.

Poseidon sets the benchmarks Valhalla couldn't and offers an engaging, powerful ride. The attraction successfully upholds the intricate perfection developed elsewhere in the park and proves that a five-star ride doesn't necessarily require knuckles to be a brighter shade of white.

Please, do not use our ratings to compare rides head-to-head. They rate only how well this ride meets its own objectives using criteria that may not necessarily be relevant with similar reviews.

Good points:

  • Many different elements are used; dark ride, roller coaster and log flume
  • Wet enough for a water ride, but not too wet. Front seat riders will come off wetter, but still not soaked
  • Elaborate and breathtaking theming with an outstanding station
  • Comfortable two-across boats

Bad points:

  • The transitions in the coaster section are slightly jerky
  • Theming is scarce towards the back of the ride

Labels: , , ,