Nigloland







Teamed with my mini trip to Disneyland Paris, I also decided to check out a 'new for me' French park, Nigloland. France is one of the only countries left in Europe that remains relatively unexplored by myself theme-park wise, but I am actively seeking to change that. This year Nigloland put itself firmly on the enthusiast radar with the opening of Alpina Blitz, Mack's answer to the Intamin MegaLite. As a lover of Piraten at Djurs Sommerland (an Intamin MegaLite) but a loather of blue fire Megacoaster at Europa Park (a Mack coaster) I was intrigued to see where this would sit in my coaster count.

So to start off with, the park is quite lovely. There's always a danger with relatively unknown parks that they're going to be a bit of a dump (because, otherwise, why wouldn't we have heard of it?) but Nigloland is really pretty. Set in a lush valley setting surrounded by the gorgeous Champagne-Ardenne of France, you can see why the area is a top destination for tourists. To my surprise I found a lot of English speaking families throughout my visit, which just go to show you how far the appeal of the place reaches.






The park has four areas, which my boyfriend pointed out don't *quite* match. Most theme parks have their own lands, but these are usually joined by an overarching theme (Europa Park is themed to countries in Europe, for example). Nigloland's lands appear to be selected at random. You have Canada, Rock n Roll, Switzerland and 'Wonderful'. All of this surrounds a boat ride themed to Africa. So I think it is fair to say that Nigloland is a little unsure of its identity. The theming is pretty solid throughout though, you could clearly tell what land you were in by the thorough theming and ride names with the exception of a few (the haunted house and the aforementioned boat ride). 


 


We started the day with a ride on the old theme park classic the log flume. I adore log flumes, and am especially attracted to ones that interact with mine trains. Such as this one. The setting is very pretty and the station tries with its theming but overall it was quite forgettable. The mine train had the same effect, although was clearly one of the most popular rides at the park as we queued about 30 minutes for the privilege! The whole surrounding area looks nice, I've always been a fan of ACTUAL BUILDINGS in areas, and this place was full of them. This, plus the abundance of foliage makes Nigloland feel very 'full' as a park even though there aren't *that* many rides. It's a style that I wish more parks would adapt because it really does work wonders for the overall ambience of a park.

Opposite the log flume there is a bear show. I don't understand how, in 2014 in a developed country like France, this sort of thing still exists. But it does. Hopefully not for much longer though. The bears appeared to live in a nice little habitat beside the show arena though so there was that. Behind this is a massive Disko ride, the good kind with the hill in the middle. Again, the ride has ample theming and is surrounded by a ton of trees so it all looks very picturesque. Annoyingly it is located in a bottlenecked dead end so we had to backtrack on ourselves to continue round the park.

Next up was the haunted house. I adore dark rides, good and bad, and always seek them out. They're kind of like an easter egg I find; you never know what you're going to get. In the case of Nigloland their offering was more than substantial. As with many tracked haunted house rides, it starts off as a bit of a Haunted Mansion rip off. However, the ride vehicles involve sitting on a bench that tilts and spins through the scenes (which, continuing the theme of being good, are quite thorough and have a fair amount of attention to detail). Some bits actually made me jump which is always a big tick for these kind of rides! And the facade was quite spectacular too, an evil haunted castle looking thing with the path approaching lined with trees. Very effective and spooky.




Opposite this was a ride I've wanted to try for a while. It's kind of hard to explain so I'll post a video.





I've wanted to ride one of these for ages and it was really fun! I got to sit in the pretty purple plane and got mine to flip 25 times (I had to stop because it was making me feel a bit gross). Really fun and unique kind of flat ride and very easy to theme and make look pretty. 



The Rock n Roll area was very good, probably one of the best I've seen with this theme . The whole area works really well, and again you can tell there wasn't a massive amount spent but it all looks very nice and colourful. The land is filled with retro/sci-fi themed stuff, with the crown jewel actually being houses in an unappealing silver tin shed. Spatiale Experience is an enclosed Mack coaster with a spiral lift-hill reminiscent of Eurosat at Europa Park, even down to the cheesy ride music. 







Cornering round from this (and cleverly partitioned by yet more trees) is the Swiss village. The buildings are gorgeous and immersive and filled with beer and pretzels. Parts of it felt more Bavarian than Swiss but the crossover is forgiven for looking so pretty. There are three coasters in this land: Bobsleigh, an old school Schwarzkopf Bobsled coaster; Schlitt'Express, a wild mouse that is the smoothest I have ever ridden (and I've ridden a LOT) and, of course, Alpina Blitz.






The station for Alpina Blitz feels very bare, although the antler chandeliers are to die for. The ride ops are in full Swiss costume which is a nice touch and the station utilises a clever bag hold system that involved minimal faff. For our first ride we opted for the back row. I attempted my usual trip of shuffling my bum forward to allow for more room in the restraint. However, my plan was rumbled: no bum shuffling here! Oh well, onto the ride. In the back, it is very good. Some nice little pops of airtime, good amount of speed and smooth as can be. I came off feeling satisfied with a ride on a good coaster but with no overwhelming desire to reride. 






Onwards, we entered the 'Wonder' area of the park. The bulidings here are rather beautiful and utilise a Victorian fairground style. The rides were substantial for a children's area featuring a Big Apple (which yes, I shamefully rode), a 'dark ride in the light' themed to the park's hedgehog mascots, a dragon monorail and a carousel. It is rumoured that this area is undergoing a bit of a re-haul and that is no surprise. Of all the areas this was the least consistent, but still by no means shabby or bad, just in need of some TLC. 








With all the coasters under my belt, we decided to do a bit of backtracking, but first we took a trip on the Africa Cruise. We queued another 30 minutes for this one, so I was hoping for something spectacular. The staff on this one were once again in costume, which I feel is a nice touch with regards to maintaining a more holistic themed experience. The ride itself is a Jungle Cruise rip off from start to finish, and quite a good one at that. All the animatronics worked and were in good condition. Ironically, the only complaint I have about this one is that it could have done with a few more trees to separate scenes.



With nothing else left to do we decided on a few rerides on Alpina Blitz, this time in the front. And what a difference the front row makes. The ejector and floater airtime is insane, the sense of speed is excellent and the overall pacing of the entire thing is fantastic. I could have sat on this thing all day long. But sadly we didn't as the day was coming to an end and we had an airport to get to, so we purchased some park tat and sweets for the road and headed out.

Nigloland is definately a park I would revisit. It has a good selection of rides, is well maintained and a pleasure to visit. I look forward to seeing how the returns made from Alpina Blitz will be reinvested into this already great theme park.




















CONVERSATION

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