Is Europa Park Secretly Not That Great?

*deep inhale of breath* LOOK. I KNOW this blog post is going to upset some people, but given all this time in isolation it's something I've been pondering for a while now and something I want to get down on paper (digitally speaking of course). And that is this - is Europa Park secretly not that great? And before you come at me all torches and pitchforks - hear me out. This isn't me saying EUROPA PARK IS SHIT AND I WILL HEAR NOTHING TO CHANGE MY MIND nor do I think that the park has zero redeeming qualities. It should also be noted that I haven't visited the park in five years and am planning (all going well) on visiting for Christmas this year. What this is is me postulating that the park may not be as glorious as many a Europa Park fanboy would have us believe, and going more in-depth into a few points that have brought me to this conclusion. So I'll make you a deal - I will do my best to phrase my points as constructively and fairly as possible based on my own opinions and experiences and you, dearest reader, will not lynch me for daring to have such a controversial opinion that does not line up with your own beliefs. Deal? OK good, let's dive in.

Right, kicking things off with my biggest Europa Park gripe - considering the park have thirteen of the damn things kicking around you'd think at least one of them would be some kind of stand-out, world-class affair. It's the theme park equivalent of having an infinite amount of monkeys on a typewriter eventually churning out the works of Shakespeare - if you do something enough then eventually something extraordinary should come of it but despite it's high cred-count Europa Park fails to deliver in the world-beating thrill sector. And I know some of you may argue that it's not that kind of park but I'd argue back that it absolutely is trying to be though - why else would you build a huge hyper-coaster, multi-looping launch coaster or extreme wooden coaster unless you had the specific aim in mind to thrill your guests?

That's not to say I think any of those aforementioned coasters are terrible - far from it. Lord knows I'm not the biggest Blue Fire fan but it's not the worst thing in the world. Same goes for Silver Star and Wodan - in actuality their biggest crime is simply that they are entirely unremarkable when stacked up against the truly incredible coasters of the world and given the size and influence of a park like Europa Park to me that is absolutely unforgiveable. You look at the likes of Disney and forgive their lack of thrills because they make up for a terrible coaster physical with beautiful theming or world-class narrative storytelling but with Europa Park's coasters you just get a selection of forgettable coasters that tick neither the extreme thrill factor nor the whimsical storytelling factor and that is a bit crap.

I was shocked upon my first visit to Europa Park at just how blatant the Disney rip-off attractions were. And yes I guess that is partly forgivable given most of those attractions appeared at a time when EuroDisney were but a gleam in Michael Eisner's eye and most Europeans would 't have had the privilege of experiencing a true Disney park for themselves but that didn't mean the shamelessness of it all didn't leave a sour taste in my mouth. Look, Disney are the theme park masters and there are Disney rip-off attractions all over the damn world but for a park heralded as Europe's best for so long, especially around the early-mid 2000s I wondered if all those singing Europa Park's phrases were simply choosing to turn a blind-eye to the cringeworthy imitations of classic Disney attractions. You all know exactly what I'm talking about - Eurosat's EPCOT inspired dome, the coaster itself being a delightful montage to Space Mountain, Pirates in Batavia (need I explain further), Geisterschloss's haunted stretching room, it was all so blatant it left me feeling really weird about the whole thing.

And it didn't just seem to be Disney - I've never seen anybody make reference to it but the mini-fairytale forest struck a striking resemblance to Efteling's wonderful Sprookjesbos. Icky stuff. From the looks of things it does appear that the past five years have seen the park take a hard u-turn on the other-park-rip-offy-type-stuff in favour of more original content and ideas with Rulantica and Voletarium which are both attractions I'm very keen to experience for myself as they look truly wonderful, but that overhanging shadow of shameless Mickey-mockery leaves a sour taste for sure.

There's nothing I love more in a theme park than a true jaw-dropping WOW moment: the second launch on Taron at Phantasialand, the airtime on Balder at Liseberg, the dragon under the castle at Disneyland Paris - moments that make your eyes grow wide with wonder and have your heart fill with joy as your mind struggles to comprehend the awesomeness of what you've just experienced. This was mostly sadly lacking for me at Europa Park. And again, I'm in no way saying any of the rides or theming is bad, not at all. But the overwhelming majority of the park is full of stuff that I'd call 'nice'. It's nice to walk through the Scandinavian area and look at the architecture. It's nice to stand in Greece and feel the mist coming off of Poseidon as it soaks another boat of riders. It's nice to float out of your seat a bit as you crest the hills on Silver Star. But the truly 'wow' moments were severely lacking, especially for a park of that size with that many attractions.

And frustratingly anything approaching 'wow' seemed to have been done better at another park - the diamond mine/dragon scene on the log flume/Alpenexpress Enzian is very cute but I've seen/felt more magic at Efteling and Disneyland Paris. The queueline for Wodan is really cool but again it screams Efteling and let's face it no coaster should be outshone by its queueline. The balance is just off for me. Things like Voletarium seem to have really stepped the game up when it comes to theming so I'm keen to get back to see how the park's skills have developed but the atmosphere always lingered around 'nice' and never managed to segway into 'wow' for me.

This might be Europa Park's biggest downside for me - the price. Look, we all know it but I'll say it just in case we weren't all on the same page: I bloody love Disney. I'm a HUGE Disney parks fan and honestly there's very little I won't pay for for that extra spark of Disney magic. But Disney can charge those prices because...they're Disney? They've earned that right through years of awesomeness and childhood nostalgia to convince me that their ridiculous price tags are worth it. Europa Park is a home grown resort, and impressive though that may be without the huge cultural backing that the Disney park and resorts have I find it laughable, almost arrogant, of the place to think it is justified in charging what it does for a day or stay at their Resort without even half of the magic on offer from that of a Disney park.

And yes of COURSE you can stay in a cheapo B&B in the nearby town and get cheap flights and all that stuff, but I challenge you to speak to ANY theme park fan who champions Europa Park who wouldn't tell you in the same breath that they just sang the praises of the theme park to you with that perhaps the crowning jewel of the Europa Park resort is not the park itself but indeed the themed hotel offering. And that I will attest to - they're undoubtedly stunning and incredibly immersive. Maybe even moreso than the Disneyland Paris hotels. BUT the price tag is unforgivable and with little to no cheaper/more affordable on-resort options available it's hard to justify a trip to Europa Park when I can head a few hours up the road to Marne-la-Vallée and bunk up with Mickey for a few nights!

That was a bit ranty but I shan't apologise, it's something that's been on my mind for a while now and something I wanted to share with you all. So again, I'm by no means slating the place - it's certainly a fun and pleasant park to visit and you'll undoubtedly have a good time in what is one of Europe's premier themed resorts however I simply cannot see eye-to-eye with those who proclaim it as a contender for world's best. That said I am excited to (hopefully!) get back this winter and see some of the newer stuff for myself and see if my opinion changes at all.

Talk later xoxo,