Europa Park - the land of pure theme park paradise where sheep are blue, dinosaurs eat cake and everything explodes with water.

Europa Park is sensory overload. Everywhere you look there’s a beautiful garden, a show of animatronics, a secret pathway, a hidden hideaway, a water fountain walkway, a portal of mist, a hidden roller coaster, flat ride, transport ride, restaurant… Every single last detail and then some feels truly cared about and loved here and it feels impossible to run out of things to do. Everything down to the bins and the toilets are so richly themed that I would close my eyes and see theming for days after my trip and I still don’t think I’ve quite adjusted to the mundane surroundings of everyday life yet. The train doors on the commute to work don’t pump mist at you as you pass through them, and it just doesn’t seem fair.

My favourite area of the park to walk through was probably Grimms’ Enchanted Forest. An absolutely gorgeous stretch of woodland filled with charm, character and bursting with interactive scenery. Push buttons (for German, French or English) bring the scenery around you to life by starting captivating and entertaining mini-shows which tell us stories of traditional Grimms’ tales like Hansel & Gretel, Mother Hulda (shaking her pillow out the window to make it ‘snow’) and Miserable Meredith, a woman who laughs hysterically for 3 minutes straight at a Golden Goose (which is my new favourite piece of scenery ever).

Oh, and absolutely everything around you is ready to squirt at you or burst into water, much to the surprise of many passers by.

Considering I went on a boiling hot Thursday and Friday in July and the park was really busy (which only added to the good atmosphere), queues were never an issue. The park knows how to handle the expected crowds with multiple train operations on all coasters and attentive and efficient staff. Most queues had a ‘constant slow walk’ kind of queue averaging around 15 – 30 minutes, with the longest queue being CanCan which I queued about 45 minutes for (and worth it).

Most of the queues are thoroughly enjoyable to be in anyway, with lots of immersive theming, varied rooms trailing both inside and out and offering spectacular close views of the attraction that you’re queueing for.

Hotel Resort

The hotel resort is a complex of several themed hotels connected to the park via a monorail or an underground walkway (heavily themed and filled with audio of course) meaning you don’t ever have to leave the immersion. I stayed in a lovely air-conditioned, motorised-bug-screen-fitted room in Hotel Colosseo and it was stunning to the last detail. I would absolutely recommend staying in any of the hotels here if you’re able to, as it makes the whole experience feel just that bit more magical.

The atmosphere at the hotel resort is something else and nothing short of perfection. Live violinists, fountain displays, fire torches, every hotel has its own selection of themed bars, restaurants, spas and hidden chill out areas. From Hotel Colosseo you can stroll around the corner to the Hotel Bell Rock, an unbelievably picturesque hotel with fountains, a lighthouse, ducks and even a nest for herons. Everyone is accommodated for.

The park also offers accommodation in an American campsite at the other side of the resort which I unfortunately didn’t get the time to venture to.

Wodan

I went on Wodan 3 times and I literally feel as though it’s so fast that I can’t remember it, even after 3 rides. It is a blur of madness which throws you around relentlessly in all the best ways. It’s really good fun and really well themed, including a deeply immersive queue line with special effects, projection mapping and a violently shaking structure. This thing is also LOUD. A wild and solid GCI that really warms up and gets faster later on in the day, only a few stronger airtime moments could improve this for me.

EuroSat - CanCan Coaster

I didn’t really know what to expect from this, but I was really pleasantly surprised with how much fun it was. The whole queue is themed beautifully with an early 20th Century French atmosphere, changing through different rooms as you get closer to the station. The station itself is gorgeous, trees with fairy lights and low ambient lighting. The coaster is a fast soar through mesmerising scenes in the dark including quick twists and turns and little pops of airtime. It’s probably the smoothest and most immersive indoor coaster I’ve ever ridden.

Matterhorn Blitz

Another (not so) little coaster hidden in the trees. The queue line is full of character, silly animatronics and chicken sounds. The whole ride was a constant surprise too, as you leave the station you’re immediately tilted and lifted upwards and dispensed out into a drop that’s so much higher and steeper than I ever expected from this kind of ride. A genuine thrill and fun all-round experience that must take a lot of unsuspecting people by surprise on a daily basis.

Arthur

I have so much praise for this ride that words fail me. This ride won a THEA award for Most Innovative Ride System and I can absolutely see why. The whole experience is fantastic, immersive as it gets, impeccably thought out and executed and actually has a lot more moments of moderate thrill than I expected. Packed with different scenes and atmospheres both inside and outside over a really generous length of ride, this thing is oozing magic around every corner.

A supremely comfortable train under the track with lap bar restraints, the ride system allows for a constantly moving station and for vehicles to rotate under control and move at different speeds, something this ride uses cleverly over its layout. A highlight for me is going through the tunnel where things first start to speed up as it spins riders through a disorientating array of lights and sound. I would love to see Mack make more of these and see what limits they can push with this ride type. One of the best overall ride experiences I have ever been on.

Poseidon

This is one of the most fun and relentless coasters at the park that had me nervous-laughing all the way around. Two lift hills and a series of swooping turns and drops (albeit rather rough but brace yourself and you’ll be fine) send you flying through tunnels and crashing into soaking madness. I was also a huge fan of the station with its grand theming and hypnotic drumming. The final drop on this is also shaped in such a quirky and genius way, an initial 45 degree descent towards a cave turns into an even steeper drop, suddenly diving straight down into the cave and working as an immense head chopper.

Atlantica SuperSplash

This water coaster is not messing around. One huge splash and that’s all it takes. A backwards dip, giant main drop and airtime hill provide lots of floaty sensations and screaming riders. Just before the boat heads back into the station, spectating guests can push a little button at the right time to trigger a huge explosion of water to give riders one final drenching.

Blue Fire

Being the only coaster at the park with inversions and me being a fan of inversions, I would expect this coaster to be high up on my list but for some reason it just… wasn’t. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was but I just felt something was missing from it. It did a whole lotta fussing for a whole lotta nothing for me. I feel it wasted its speed and potential with a lot of drawn-out dead spots and the harsh mid course break run really killed it’s already uninteresting pacing for me.

I’m sure other less critical people enjoy it (and it certainly sounded like everyone did) and it definitely has a few spectacular highlights. The launch is a lot punchier than I expected. The whippy last inversion really throws you out of your seat. The tunnel before the big vertical loop is one of the best head choppers I’ve experienced, it really does feel so impossibly narrow that you can’t imagine you’re going to get through it with your head still on. The hill crest up to the mid course break run also creates some good sideways airtime that floats you up out of your seat and took me by surprise.

Another positive is the well thought out station and baggage system. It uses the automatic flaps that more and more coasters are utilising these days, however you collect your stuff from the other side of the station after getting off the train at a separate exit point, so it keeps the station moving smoothly and quickly.

Euro-Mir

This spinning coaster is an interesting one. The queue line features some great scenery of space craft (where lots of cute little birds have nested inside). The ride starts with you sitting in the dark listening to house music whilst you’re slowly lifted up a tower, then spinning around some high track surrounded by mirrors before heading down some drops and turns which pull G-forces that I wasn’t expecting. This is the only coaster at the park that I didn’t have an interest in re-riding and I think it’s mainly due to the fact I was very uncomfortable in the car and with the hard edge of the carriage ready to bruise your shins as it takes some rough transitions.

Silver star

Silver Star was the (gold) star of the show for me (pardon the pun). Super comfortable clamshell restraints, your choice of row and great throughput. Silver Star is all about the airtime and in true hyper style provides constant floater/ejector over each hill (especially with the trims turned off, why are they ever on?).

I sampled a few different rows and I found the back row to really pull you down the first drop, giving me that stomach-in-mouth feeling, with ejector airtime over the crest of each hill that follows. Front seat slowly hangs you off the top of the first drop before dropping you and giving good floater all the way down it, then plenty of floater airtime over the rest of the hills. Highlights include the highly banked turn around section, the pure drama of the mid course brake run which slams you forward and then throws you up down the next drop and the speedy S bends into the final breakrun.

Other hidden gems

There’s so many other little attractions here and I didn’t get to all of them, but some honourable mentions that I did ride go to:

Voletarium – I don’t know if this is common, but this attraction almost brought me to tears. This surreal, well-executed, mesmerising and scenic ride takes you through scenes of Europe, each with its own smell, and ends by flying over Europa Park, at night, with fireworks. It’s beautiful all the way through. I rode this towards the end of my last day so I think it started to hit me how much of a good trip I’d had and that it would be coming to an end, so it made me a teensy bit emotional!

Madame Freudenreich Curiosités – a quirky dark ride taking you on a journey through dinosaurs baking cakes and it was as bizarre and cute as it sounds.

Tirola Log Flume – log flume is very nice.

Schweizer Bobbahn – a fun little toboggan but nothing worth writing home about.

Jungle Raftsa relaxing trip around a lake through African-themed animatronic scenes.

Fjord Rafting – a river rapids ride taking you through a journey of nice scenery and an excellently dramatic waterfall sandwich with very blue walls.

Ghost Castle – a creepy journey of dark corridors, a tense pre-show room and immersive ghost train through dark animatronic scenes. There’s also an excellent shop of horror merch when you exit so have your card ready.

Pegasus – a tame little kiddie coaster? Not so much. I rode back row of the strikingly designed train and it certainly packed more punch and G-force than I expected.

Out of context quotes of the day include “I want to film that woman’s head exploding”, “I didn’t understand it but I liked it” and “Why is there an Anne Hathaway Sweet Shop in the England section isn’t she American?”

I could probably go again and spend 2 days doing rides and attractions that I didn’t even do on this trip, there’s that much to do. Europa Park is a truly magical place with something for absolutely everyone, from thrill-seekers to babies to foodies to nature lovers. I would recommend the steak.

Have you visited Europa Park?