My Top Europe Theme Parks

I am leaving Europe in two days. That actually just hit me as I started writing this entry.

As I sit down, I reflect upon my #OneThemeParkAtATime experience in Europe. I thought of all of the theme parks that I visited. I remembered the sensation I had on all of the roller coasters I rode in the past year.

And now... it's time to make a list: a BEST LIST.

Europa Park is certainly one of the best theme parks in Europe... but does it make it into my list?

In this post, I would like to share with you my top picks for theme parks in Europe.

NOTE: In the interest of personal top picks, I considered only theme parks that I have visited.

Here is the list of all 14 theme parks that I visited in Europe from August 26th, 2015 to September 3rd, 2016:
Which ones make it to my "Best Theme Parks in Europe" list? Start the drum rolls, here we go!

3. Efteling (Kaatsheuvel, Netherlands)

If I can only say one thing that impresses me the most about Efteling, then there is no doubt about it: Storytelling.

Baron 1898 is an example of Efteling's extraordinary storytelling.

Efteling is a park that is fully - I can even say 150% - dedicated to the storytelling aspect of a theme park, and it pays off for them to do so. While other theme parks are investing in rides and roller coasters that are taller, faster, and longer, Efteling sticks to what it has done best since it opened its gates for the first time in 1952.

The park is so dedicated to storytelling that they go as far as creating custom soundtrack for each major ride in the park. My personal favorites are the soundtracks to Droomvlucht and De Vliegende Hollander, both of which left me humming for hours after leaving the park.

Even the main pathway at Efteling is elaborately themed.

There is no doubt that through this dedication, elaborate theming is also found throughout the entire park. The best example would be Baron 1898, a B&M Diving Coaster that despite its small size is in fact the world's most elaborately themed coaster of its kind. This is perhaps the only B&M Diver in the world to have a dark ride portion and elaborate storyline.

Rumor has it that Efteling's storytelling is so impressive that it became the major inspiration for the original Disneyland, which opened in Anaheim, CA in 1955 - a mere 3 years after the opening of Efteling.

The loading/unloading station for De Vliegende Hollander is created to look like a small Dutch village.

A visit to Efteling is indeed like entering a fairytale book. This is a park where you're free to roam around in your imagination. And when you go home, you have stories to tell.

2. Europa Park (Rust, Germany)

One thing that you will notice right away about Europa Park is its efficiency, which I must say the best I've ever seen in any theme parks in the world.

This park is a true reflection of what people often call the German Efficiency. For lines that are typically 60 minutes (1 hour) in other parks like, say, Disneyland Paris and Alton Towers, this park could manage to handle them in somewhere between half to two-thirds of the time.

Europa Park has one of the best landscaping of any theme parks in the world.

Europa Park is a unique theme park because it's not just merely a theme park - it also acts as an official showroom for an amusement ride design and construction company called Mack Rides.

Rumor has it that in the past Mack Rides had difficulties finding clients for its products. Instead of calling it off, they decided to solve the problem on their own: build a theme park where they can showcase their roller coasters. Europa Park, in essence, is a testing ground for many of Mack Rides' new products/offerings.

Blue Fire, a "Top 20" roller coaster, is a prototype product of Mack Rides when it opened in 2009.
Since then, Mack Rides has had 4 clients ordering the exact same model.

But that doesn't mean the rides at Europa Park are of low quality. With a line up of 13 roller coasters - all of which are different from each other, creating a diverse line up - Europa Park wins the Variety of Roller Coasters card hands down. From water coaster to wooden coaster, from launched coaster to powered inverted coaster, the options are endless.

Not all of the rides in the park are designed and constructed by Mack Rides, though. Other companies also chime in from time to time, like Great Coasters International with Wodan: Timbur Coaster and Bolliger & Mabillard with Silver Star. Both coasters meet the quality that is expected from the theme park's own offerings.

Wodan: Timbur Coaster is one of the roller coasters that is not designed and constructed by Mack Rides.

Visiting Europa Park is always a good option because you know you'll spend minimum time waiting in lines thanks to the park's excellent efficiency. Given the vast options of rides, you might as well spend the entire day hopping between rides and enjoying the scenes around you.

1. Phantasialand (Brühl, Germany)

Located just under 400 km away from Europa Park, Phantasialand is often overshadowed by its competitor's size and offerings. With a size of only 28 hectares (vs Europa Park's mammoth 95 hectares), Phantasialand surely has a lot of challenges when it comes to expanding their offerings.

Yet, they managed to do so, and their efforts paid off big time. One thing that amazes me the most about Phantasialand is something that I've never thought of: creative use of space.

Who would've thought that while drinking these huge glasses of beer, Taron is blasting beneath their feet?

The recently-opened themed area Klugheim is the best example of Phantasialand's creative use of space. With such a small area of land, they managed to fit in Taron, a roller coaster that is more than 4,000 feet long, Raik, the world's tallest, fastest, and longest family boomerang roller coaster, and a couple of restaurants. Simply said, that's an amazing achievement.

The Mexico section at Phantasialand also showcases the park's creative use of space.
In this photo, we see Chiapas, the park's signature flume ride.

Another thing that I really like about Phantasialand is their one-of-a-kind rides. For a theme park that is small in size, it compensates with rides that are extremely rare or can't even be found in any other theme parks in the world.

Take, for example, Mystery Castle, the world's only fully-indoor free fall tower ride. Chiapas, an Intamin flume ride that goes forward and backward, and boasts the world's steepest flume ride drop. Even Talocan, a seemingly normal Top Spin ride, is unique because it's so elaborately themed; it's a live show itself instead of just a ride.

Black Mamba's queue line snakes through the roller coaster itself.
Notice how close the person is to the train passing by right above.

Phantasialand is what all theme parks should be: amazing line up of rides without being overcrowded, unique without being overwhelming. While it's unfortunate that Phantasialand seems to be overshadowed by other larger theme parks in Europe, it will always be a true charm and gem for those who have visited the park.

So there you go, folks! My top picks for Europe's Best Theme Parks! In my next blog post, I will share my top picks for... Europe's Best Roller Coasters!

How about you? What theme parks in Europe have you visited? Which one strikes the most impressions on you?

Comments

  1. How about Disneyland Paris?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous,

      As much as I like Disneyland Paris, I feel that it's not European enough. Theme parks in Europe have distinctive charm that are entirely missing in Disneyland Paris, and that's why unfortunately it didn't make it to my list.

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  2. Hi,
    I think we saw you last weekend at Kolmarden. We caught the bus there and I saw you taking pictures of the coaster, found a link to your review on Screamscape.

    Europa Park is my favourite in Europe. Great atmosphere, very well run, good rides and lots of places to grab a drink and relax. As you say, European parks have different atmosphere. We like the city centre parks like Tivoli, Liseberg, Bakken some really unique rides you won't see anywhere else.

    I'm up to 376 coasters now but I think I have a head start ( age ! )

    Have fun..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh noooo!! You guys should've said hi 😊

      Certainly European parks have their own sets of charm. It's amazing what they do with limitation of space and such.

      Delete

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