German Birthday Trip 2014

It just occurred to me that I never got around to uploading my photos from my birthday trip to Germany! Oh well, better late than never, here we go.

I decided (as I always do) to do a little trip away for my birthday, and this seemed a better time than ever to mop up the last few 'big' European parks on my list. I arranged a trip around visiting Tripsdrill and Holiday Park in the south and then driving into the north to spend a couple of days at the Heide Park resort.

We headed to Tripsdrill first. I have always wanted to go to this park. I love quirky things at theme parks and Tripsdrill has always looked like my perfect park, similar in theme to Efteling and Phantasialand in that it has that strange German fairytale style mixed with a bit of traditional German architecture and a dash of country park. Upon arrival we soon realised that the park was dead, we were one of about twenty cars in the car park which was good for us considering we had limited time at the park before pushing on. 

 I loved Tripsdrill but it definitely lacked the magic I had expected. A lot of it is bare empty fields and in a theme park I prefer to be totally closed in, not being able to see what it going to be coming around the corner next. It seems that they're steadily adding more to the empty fields though with some fabulous theming on the way, so I'll revisit in a few years to see how it has evolved. There's no denying how gorgeous it looks on this lush autumn day though!

We jumped in the car and headed towards a small park just out of the way called Schwaben Park. Overall it was a total dump but was redeemed by having a pair of Nautic Jets, now extinct in the UK. We faffed around on those for a bit before hopping back in the car and driving into Stuttgart for Oktoberfest.

This was my first proper German fair and honestly, it's pretty much exactly the same as Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park in London, with the sole difference of having the 'big' German travelling coasters. We were lucky enough to stumble upon Test Trecke which was a nice little surprise!

Day two we headed to Holiday Park for the legendary coaster Expedition GeForce. I wasn't a massive fan of the park. There was hardly anything there bar the coaster and after a few hours we were ready to leave. Expedition GeForce is a fantastic piece of steel, I would have loved to have tried it at night but I really couldn't stretch to more than a few hours at Holiday Park.

It actually turned out to be a good thing that we left so early as we had a pretty daunting five hour drive north ahead of us. We stopped for an hour at a small park in the forest to nab an alpine coaster before slogging it up towards the Heide Park Resort.

 I had visited Heide Park back in 2009 but it had been an absolutely manic day of running around trying to get all of the creds with very little time to explore. Since then a resort hotel had popped up alongside two new B&Ms I needed to get under my belt. What I found with Heide Park is that it is a park of three thirds. One third is that old school German style I spoke about earlier with the traditional architecture and classic ride types, the second third has an industrial and calculated feel, with all the rides situated very specifically around the lake. It lacks any sense of natural evolvement or discover and is very purpose built. The third and final part is section with that undeniable Merlin touch - a bit less cold and industrial than the second part but still severely lacking that conventional German flavour. Similarly to my opinion of Tripsdrill, I didn't like Heide Park's lack of a sense of adventure. When you walk in you literally see the rides laid out in front of you around the lack. There is nothing to stumble upon or discover and because of this there is very little magic. Of the two new B&Ms at the park Krake, the Dive Machine, really stood out for me (though it can't hold a candle to Oblivion). Flug der Daemonen was lackluster as is the trend with WingCoasters and even with these two new additions Colossos, the Intamin wooden coaster, remains the crown jewel of this park.

I was lucky enough to be treated to a stay at the park's resort hotel. After a less than inspiring stay at Merlin's Alton Towers Hotel in September I was sceptical about what Port Royal would have to offer. I needn't have been. The room was glorious with a stunning pirate theme. There was a wooden bath tub next to the bed and the staff had decorate it for my birthday celebration. Upon arrival a staff member came to our room with champagne and cake. It really was such amazing treatment, especially when held up against the disaster that was the ATH. Furthermore we indulged in a dinner buffet that featured unlimited beer and wine on tap. This would be unheard of in the UK but in Europe there would definitely be an uproar if anything less were offered. Top this off with tasteful entertainment (ahem, X-Factor rejects performing at ATH, THIS is how you entertain a crowd), the Port Royal Hotel was really impressive and made my birthday something really special.

I had a really good time and am really glad I've finally ticked these parks off of my list. Unfortunately this trip lacked the magic of my 2013 birthday trip but I would argue that Phantasialand and Efteling are tough contenders for 'most magical theme park', so I will forgive.