Europa Park was a logistical nightmare for me. Each review on Coaster
Kingdom is a justification for the amount of stars you find at the
bottom of each page. By this token, you can tell that our philosophy
goes way beyond simply awarding good rides five stars.
is easy to become fazed by the daunting task of summarising a ride or
even park with a simple thumbnail-sized graphic. As you visit more and
more theme parks, this task becomes simpler, as although direct
comparisons are still a no-no, a benchmark can at least be set by the
standard of other similar parks elsewhere.
Park had a lot to live up to, so I visit expecting to come back raving
unequivocally and to conclude with a string of gold stars. Instead, not
only do I find a five-star park, but also I find a park capable of
completely wrecking my finely tuned rating system in one fell swoop.
are times when simply awarding a park or attraction merely five stars
seems shamefully inadequate and you really wonder whether attractions
that share this accolade really are worthy of this rating.
case would ever stand up in court without evidence, just like you
can’t take my word for it that Europa Park is not a molecule short of
being phenomenal, but unlike many good parks, it is easy to identify why
Europa Park is one of the best parks in the world.
has become a sad fact of life that not only do we pay to get into theme
parks, but also have to bring along our own bodyweight in gold just to
pay the park extra to make our day that much more fun.
society dictates that in order to enjoy theme parks to their fullest,
you should be prepared to pay for the privilege. Worse still, ways of
emptying pockets are camouflaged as benefits to you that you cannot do
paid your ransom to enter, as soon as you’re through the gates you at
least want to be re-assured that your money has been put to good use.
Where this slips the minds of most parks, Europa lay out the red carpet
and make you feel as welcome as lipstick at a slumber party.
present to the jury exhibit A: a stage down the centre of this German
boulevard alive with costumed characters doing their best to welcome
the exception of Disney and Universal parks, I am at a loss to think of
theme parks that use costumed characters with such regularity. Not only
does this reassure you that your visit to the park is worthwhile, but
come home time it makes sure your last memory is a good one.
being a strange shape park, twice as long as it is wide, Europa Park is
laid out well. Rides are well situated and seem to follow an ‘anchor
ride per area’ formula which seems to work nicely. France has Eurosat,
Greece has Poseidon and Russia has Euro Mir for example. Although such
rides pretty much form the basis upon which the area is built around
they never look shoehorned in.
distinction between areas is glaringly obvious thanks to the striking
architecture. Space from area to area is never wasted, often with
fountains or rock gardens.
at Europa Park goes well beyond the call of duty to the point that even
without rides, the park could be considered as an expo of European
countries. Each country has sympathetic architecture and relevant
cuisine, each has a character of its own.
point of theming I think goes way beyond stylisation of a ride – there
is no point beautifully finishing off a detailed haunted house if
you’re going to stick a corrugated warehouse the size of a football
pitch on the back, paint it sky blue and hope nobody will notice.
by its very nature invites you to notice the little touches, so it is
always infuriating that the more you look at theming, the more
oversights you notice and the more you notice how the theming is just
chicken wire on the front of something normal.
do not have to be themed to be good, but people are too quick to compare
a parks’ level of theming to that of Disney. The real litmus test is
whether by looking at theming you notice things that should have been
themed and haven’t (bad), or whether you notice theming on things that
didn’t need to be themed (good).
present exhibit B: a Russian satellite dish, in excess of 100ft tall.
This frankly unnecessary feature is only eye candy. It isn’t on the
map, nor is it part of a ride or attraction – it is just another
spectacular landmark that in this case spends the day panning around
scanning the skies.
could of course introduce you to further evidence such as exhibits C, D
and E; a training capsule as used for the crew of the Mir space station,
a flotilla of Greek fishing boats and a fleet of F1 cars respectively,
but that would just be going over the top (as Europa have done). It is
this ‘theming for the sake of theming’ attitude that raises Europa
Park way above most parks.
areas themed after the countries of Europe, theming is rarely emotive.
This means emphasis is placed on genuine and detailed theming, not on
deliberately making you happy or intimidating you.
river flowing through the centre of the park is never an opportunity
wasted. France for example is built around this river, with cobbled
roads and street cafes along its bank. Not only this, but a great deal
of the parks’ electricity is generated thanks to the perpetual flow of
is often used to disguise something rather plain and vanilla and a good
attraction is created by virtue of this. If theming is in addition to
something already quite remarkable then something truly spectacular is
F: Euro Mir. The bare bones of this ride alone is something remarkable,
not only with a unique layout but with one of a kind trains that even to
this day are still unique to Europa Park. On top of this, extraordinary
lunar landscapes and incandescent mirrored towers fuse together to make
a magnificent ride.
eat. Europa Park does not use the frilly architecture of buildings to
hide the golden arches of fast food restaurants. Each restaurant is
unique and offers an innovative menu and tasty cuisine. Table service is
not rare and restaurants are sizeable and never overfull.
- they are never gushingly polite, but never rude. It is unlikely
you’ll ever find a more professional group of staff anywhere in the
world. The German efficiency at Europa Park even makes America look
me introduce to you Hans, exhibit G: His job on my day of visiting was
to let visitors into Eurosat in groups of thirty-or-so. Whilst he waits
for the queue in front to empty down, what does he do? Does he stand
around looking generally dozy? Of course not. He sweeps up some dust on
the ground. This dust is undetectable to the naked eye, but sure enough,
he clears our path of any rogue dust-particles. Not only this, but his
colleagues upstairs load trains in less than 15-seconds.
am sure it will come as no surprise that Europa Park is spotless.
Keeping the park clean also doesn’t mean that the day will be spent
having to move out the way of small dustcarts. Instead of having
pint-sized bins that need emptying every couple of hours, many of the
bins at Europa Park are large enough that they don’t need to be
touched all day. A great touch, but hardly rocket science.
hotels at Europa Park are by far the best hotels you can expect to find
in any European theme park. Never do you actually stay in a hotel and
actually BELIEVE that it is a medieval castle. At the risk of sounding
like a stuck record, theming simply cannot get any better than this.
more evidence, this time in the form of exhibit H: every corridor has a
unique character, most of the hotel is lit in candlelight and features
spectacular surprises around each corner in the form of animatronic
prisoners under the stairs or simple delights such as extravagant
lanterns or stained glass windows.
table service restaurant shares that of the neighbouring hotel, a
Spanish themed retreat with lush garden lit by flaming lanterns.
bar is a wonderfully warming experience. With the main atrium awash with
the restful melodies of a quintet, a warren of corridors lead off to
private rooms and nooks and crannies where your group can truly escape
with breathtaking views of the park.