Attraction Review - Festyland


If there's anything I'm guilty of as a coaster enthusiast, it's spending hours traipsing through Coast2Coaster and RCDB seeking out weird and wonderful coasters that not many people know of/talk about. That's how I discovered Festyland. Soquet coasters are a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine and I love parks with unexpectedly good theming - hidden gems if you will. I plugged the park into Coast2Coaster and found that actually there was a nice little cluster of parks and fun cultural stuff to do in that area, so for Conor's birthday this year we packed up the new Corsa and headed to the continent!


Situated in Lower Normandy near Caen, Festyland is a smaller theme park themed to the era of 1066. What an epic theme! Think Norman invasions, dragons and vikings! Yh, all of the 'better' attractions are themed to this but there is a spattering of theming tat sprinkled inbetween the well themed lands. Random dinosaurs that have no business being in the year 1066 and some random Titanic theming, but overall it's an interesting use of a tragically underused theme.


So, onto our day! We arrived with park opening at 11AM, struggled with broken French to get our tickets sorted (thanks so much to the guys at Festyland, very kind of you!) and headed in! The entrance area is very cute, themed to a kind of turn-of-the-century Paris. It's clearly done on a lower budget than some of the newer areas but it's pretty nonetheless. It is quite weird when juxtaposed with the park's Viking dinosaur mascots, but sometimes you just have to let theme parks have their quirks!



The entrance plaza is stacked Roller Coaster Tycoon style with one long path leading down to the rest of the park and smaller children's attractions laid out either side. We didn't ride any of these gentler rides, but they were full of smiling kids all day and set the park off with a tone of elegance.



First ride of the day was Tour D'Esnambuc, a mini shot and drop tower themed to pirates. I love these towers, not too forceful to make me feel like my fanny is going to fall off and not too high as to make me regret getting on the thing in the first place. Fun! Loads of floaty fun airtime and the ride area and queue had a decent effort at a pirate theme, complete with a soundtrack clearly 'inspired' by a certain beloved Piratey film franchise.




This park has a really awkward layout, and the next few flat rides were lovingly placed at the side of a hill. A pirate ship and water slides, again complete with rigging and models of pirates climbing up the side of it which was a fab touch, ties the small pirate area together nicely.


Then the park begins to open into the main 1066 Norman invasion area which kind of leans more on a generic Medieval theme in some areas but for the most part is fab so it's forgiven. There are LOADS of rides in this area, a lot of which I didn't ride because they were either spinny or kiddy. Porn ponies (don't know what these are actually called...you know those horses on a track that you ride that look a little...X-Rated...), a Disk-O themed to a knight cavalry which I thought looked REALLY cool and a huge Frisbee call Eretic (Heretic in English) which I thought was an incredible name for a ride!



This one we DID ride. Took a little while to get into the swing of things (pun definitely intended) but I always forget how forceful these things are! I absolutely love these rides, much prefer them to Afterburners. Always guaranteed good fun, just the right dose of forcefulness and airtime for me and not spinny enough to make me want to vom. Fun!




Next up we decided it was time for a cred, and first up was probably the best themed Soquet coaster in existence (maybe with the exception of Azteca at Le Pal). The coaster's lifthill goes up into a castle turret and then plummets and races around the hillside. The first drop is actually surprisingly forceful and there's even a pop of airtime as the train comes racing back into the station. Oh, and I love how the trains are like a Duplo version of the Taron trains, so adorable! The station is even decorated with the Bayeux tapestry, such a fab use of the local history as a theme.










One cred down, we decided it was time to try out Kaskade, a terrifying yet beautifully themed Zamperla Hydro Lift rapids. I think these look fab and quirky on their own, but having only opened recently in 2015 there's clearly been an increase in budget as the ride looks great! The theming is top notch and the surrounding area is beautifully landscaped. Only thing was, the ride looked absolutely brutal! A vicious spin the whole way down and dramatic changes in direction with some serious slamming into the sides.






We joined the queue both excited and terrified, but no sooner had we taken our seats in the tiny boats of doom than the thing decided to break down on us. Boo! For the rest of the day the rapids sat dry with an engineer half way up the lift hill. Gutted!

After this spite we decided it was time for another cred, so we wobbled over the rope bridge through the questionable dinosaur themed ride lead by a group of smoking Frenchies not giving a shit who they blew their smoke over. Gross, but also hilarious at how little a fuck they actually gave.


So onto the next 'properly' themed area, Vikland! Told you, such a cool mix of themes at this park. This area has clearly had some recent TLC with the addition of a Zamperla Air Race called Miolnyr new for this year as well as some extra theming. The park's other coaster, another Soquet called Drakkar Express, has lived at the park since 1997 so fab to see it integrated into an updated area. The coaster itself is a lot tamer than 1066 but still really fun. I always just love how these coasters look and the way it weaved through all of the lush green trees was really cute. We only rode the one time and that was us done, but it does the job and is kind of a step up from kiddie coaster, I'd say it fits firmly in the family coaster bracket.








Conor rode Miolnyr next. I've ridden one Air Race in my life and that was enough for me to know I do not enjoy these rides! That's not to say I don't think they're a great addition to any park, and this one was no exception. It's cool to see one themed to something other than planes too, Miolnyr is themed to viking hammers which is so badass it hurts! Again, you can tell a little more money has been spent on theming here as everything looks slick, from the laser cut fencing to the upside down viking longship as an entrance. Fab.











After this we had a wander back down to the cute main entrance area and had a reride on 1066. Such a great little coaster - I'll forgive the fact that the castle building is literally just a facade. Photographic trickery make it look a lot bigger than it is so I've added a few shots from the side too so you can see what I mean.



Then finally, yay, Kaskade had water running again! We hung around the entrance for a bit and then the poor ride op was absolutely swarmed by a bunch of French teenagers (and us) gagging for some Zamperla BDSM action!

We got paired with a French family with two young kids, and I have to admit the boats were a little on the snug side, meaning we got to know them a little better than we had hoped! The boat also have these kind of lap bars-but-not in that they don't actually move or lock down. I guess they're just there for you to grab when the terror begins/stop you from getting up and bailing before the terror begins.

The vertical lift hill is the stuff of nightmares, and the small French boy agreed and his smiling excited face soon turned to mega sad face emoji. Cue the rest of us doing ridiculous big smiles and clapping and cheering as the boat tumbled down the brutal course in an attempt to stop him bursting properly into tears. This ride is stupid. It's SO compact, it spins mercilessly, the changes in direction are savage and on top of that you don't really even get wet. In which case, it's the perfect water ride!

Considering they take up barely any room I'm surprised more parks haven't invested in one of these beasts. They're quirky, interesting, thrilling, fun and to top it off they're a water ride which pretty much everyone loves. Excellent.


Satisfied, we said our goodbyes to Festyland and made our way to our culture stop for the evening at the incredible Mt. Saint Michel (should be on everybody's bucket list, it's amazing) stopping at the Normandie Luge to nab the Alpine Coaster cred. This area was amazing, it's essentially an activity centre with bungee jumps and zip wires and stuff all set around an old viaduct. Really cool and unexpected.




And that was our day! If you're visiting the Normandy area I highly recommend a stop at Festyland, if only for Kaskade alone. It's a really pleasant little park who are on the right path with a series of solid investments in both rides and theming. I can't wait to see where this park goes as they're definitely on the right track and are in the perfect area to really thrive!

Talk later xoxo,

CONVERSATION

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