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Old May 29, 12, 5:40 am   #1
 
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Destination: Best amusement park in Europe

To make a long story rather short, last year I took my girlfriend to Tokyo, Japan and we had a wonderful time and the best memories are from the Disneyland and DisneySea Tokyo Parks with it's amazing atmosphere, theme and everything. The robots and the technical detail was simply outstanding and made the 40-80min queues and even the simplest attractions amazing as a result of pure awesome detail, humour and atmosphere surrounding the entire park and each individual attraction.


This year we can't afford another trip outside Europe, but we'd love to plan a trip to another amusement park located in Europe and making it a weekend holiday during the summer. Here in Norway we've got "Tusenfryd" which got a fair amount of attractions but's that pretty much it.. There is no theme, there is no special atmosphere to the park nor to it's attractions making the whole thing very dull in comparison to Disneyland and DisneySea Tokyo. I won't say the attractions are any worse when it comes to raw action performance, they feature plenty of punch and the attractions in Disneyland and DisneySea weren't of the uttermost thrill to be honest but I for one find atmosphere and surroundings to be as important as the pure action performance of each attraction itself, I'm not seeking the most thrilling attractions but the best theme park where all aspects are equally important for the whole experience.

Take Splash Mountain in Disneyland Tokyo for instance, we took it about 4-6 times with a 40-80min queue in bright sunlight and the entire attraction doesn't really feature more than one single interesting aspect when it comes to action and thrill which is the drop at the end. Still we enjoyed it a hell of a lot with all the funny parts, the music, the dialogues (which we didn't understand as they were Japanese) making the attraction one of my top favourites of all time simply because the whole package was of such high detail, it was simply fantastic and having that silly song at the end making you sing along on Japanese like you haven't done anything else your entire life just feels amazing.


This brings me back to the topic, which amusement park in Europe would you consider the best to repeat the success of last years trip to Disneyland and DisneySea Tokyo? The two Disney Parks in Paris raise as a obvious contender, but after what I've heard and read the parks in Paris doesn't seem to be as good as the other Disney parks around the world? From what I've read it's only the "unofficial" park in Hong Kong that is consider worse and that when it comes to technical details, robots etc.. the two parks in Tokyo are perhaps the best of the whole bunch, but quite a few people still prefers the parks in USA because they are consider the originals.

I'm afraid a trip to parks in Paris might feel somewhat lacklustre after being to the two in Tokyo and I've heard the prices and everything in Disneyland Paris are on the steep side of all the various Disney parks around the world?


What do you think would be the best choice of amusement park in Europe for us to aim at this summer?
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Old May 29, 12, 6:15 am   #2
 
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I always really liked Alton Towers in the UK far more than Disneyland / Disneyworld (but haven't been to Tokyo's versions). It is set over hundreds of acres of English countryside, with an old manor house, beautiful gardens and lakes etc as well as the rides. It is a few years since I went last, but they had some great rides, their 'thematic' rides (haunted house etc) were very well done, and if you can go on weekdays outside of major school holidays, I found the queues reasonable (and often non existent tbh!) they have a hotel on sure with waterpark, but I haven't been there so cannot comment.
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Old May 30, 12, 7:14 am   #3
 
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EuropaPark.

The thrill rides are better than in Disney in general (Disney has a policy now of purchasing rides instead of creating their own) outside of the theming. The food is far better. The hotels are far better. No need to spend $45 per person for mediocre, American chain style food for a character meal; character meal buffets are included in the price of the room, and the food is really great quality German buffet breakfast. One can sleep in shared space on the floor of a Tipi, or chuckwagon, or log cabin if one wishes, or have a very themed room in a Portuguese monastery, or choose one of the other theme hotels.

But mostly I love the tongue in cheek humour there which is the dark side of Disney and would most likely shock the die-hard Disney fans. The dead body on the floor of the mining train office, surrounded by bears, is just one example of the dark side of Disney's Big Thunder Mountain.

I also like the fact that unlike US Disney parks, there are not signs everywhere directing people how to use their brains. In Germany/France/Switzerland (the feeder markets), people know how to wash their hands after relieving themselves, and unlike American Disney guests do not need signs listing step by step instructions for how to wash ones hands.

Then again, I do have to admit that I have a little negative feeling towards Mack since they removed Ciao Bambini, but at least there is always YouTube.

I'll share my thoughts on DLP a little later; it is to me far better than the American parks, but for reasons different than the American customer may think.
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Old May 30, 12, 9:19 am   #4
 
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Exbayern,

I noticed that EuropaPark also has these "mini-countries" similar to Epcot Center, is it mainly theme rides that they have or do they make you feel like you've in that country with other stuff like the street atmosphere, restaurants, etc.?

Do they also serve beer all over the place for us adults?
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Old May 30, 12, 10:02 am   #5
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Originally Posted by aster View Post
Exbayern,

I noticed that EuropaPark also has these "mini-countries" similar to Epcot Center, is it mainly theme rides that they have or do they make you feel like you've in that country with other stuff like the street atmosphere, restaurants, etc.?

Do they also serve beer all over the place for us adults?
definitely the atmosphere! you can buy typical souvenirs, food ... the places and the architecture look like the european countries you're "visiting".
it's my favourite park, too. sleeping there is definitely worth it, because you can visit in advance theme rides when the park is not (yet) open for day-visitors.

and did I mention the bar in the 4th floor of the italian hotel? (but then again, I am biased - living 20min away from Europapark)
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Old May 30, 12, 12:01 pm   #6
 
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As Chris says, there are shops/food as well, similar to Epcot. But unlike Epcot, the food is not homogenous all over, and the product is not all made in China. (Don't know when you were last in Epcot, but it is really really homogeneous these days, and products and flavours are not indicative of the country. Look at the Werthers shop for instance which sells all sorts of things not specific to German tastes)

I like things like the Alsatian food served at EP, not easily found around the world.

And EP is well situated for a holiday into France and Switzerland, or to enjoy some of the attractions in the Black Forest, or Bodensee. And then again, always an opportunity for a FT meet up in one of the most charming areas of the world.
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Old May 30, 12, 12:42 pm   #7
 
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Going back to Disneyland Paris, it's a matter of taste. I like it better than both American resorts based on their current state. Rather than rewrite I revised a post I wrote in another thread. Maestro's Europe Trip - Newbie here.. Please be Patient If you do vote for Disney, there are lots of tips in that thread on how to find the best rates. I also don't like the mania around the US parks online, and how so many people seem determined to scam and cheat their way around the system. That doesn't seem to apply in the same fashion for the French parks.

Here is why many Disney fans on American fora say that DLP is rubbish:

- They don't speak English all the time. Er, the park is in FRANCE. Virtually every CM speaks French and some English, many speak better English than you or I, and I have twice met one who struggled with French.
- The shows are in Franglais. Again, the park is in FRANCE. Shows may be in Franglais with rather seamless transition back and forth, or some shows such as the Stitch presentation are in different languages at different times of the day. Most rides are in Franglais or French and English, or have no narration. Announcements are at a minimum in French and English
- The breakfast at the hotels are 'bad'. The breakfast goes well beyond a typical French breakfast, and while not a German breakfast buffet and not the standard of Europa Park hotels, is quite good. Breads, rolls, jams, Nutella, yoghurt, muesli, cereals, coffee, juices are above and beyond a typical French offering, and in the better hotels you can upgrade to an 'American' breakfast of hot eggs, etc
- The parks don't sell much clothing merchandise. That is to the local taste; most visitors are from various countries in Europe, where character t-shirts wouldn't be worn in the normal course of the week. Clothing is also very expensive with very high VAT rates in most countries, so spending money on something rarely worn isn't that common.
- The rides are different than at WDW. Yes, they are. Many are far better than at WDW and are now actually being adapted for the American parks
- There isn't typical American fast food. Again, the park is in FRANCE. There is typical European fast food/fair food such as waffles, gelato, sweet popcorn, etc and an attempt at some American items too. And there is McDonalds and Starbucks right outside the park for those who insist on American fare, and Ben and Jerry's is the ice cream brand served in the parks. But the sit down restaurants tend to be much nicer and better food than in the US parks
- There are fewer strollers. For me, heavenly. I have a photo of one of the peak days in August, most popular children's ride, with one stroller parked outside. Most people don't have their children in strollers at age 3, 4, 5 and certainly not 9 or 10 as I read on American Disney fora. It makes for a much easier experience getting around the park for everyone
- There are male cleaners in the women's bathrooms - HORRORS! That is common in France and Germany, and frankly sensible as it saves on costs to have one cleaner for both sides
- There are often military at the train station with guns. Yes, we have a long history of terrorism in our part of the world (far longer than in America), and that is a reality. The RER/TGV station was purpose built for DLP but it is still a French railway station, and it is part of the real world

Then the complaints go on to the cultural stereotypes ('the French are rude, the Italians don't queue, everyone smells', etc) DLP is much more like DL used to be 20 or 30 years ago, with few strollers, no overly organized character 'meet and greets', and a distinct lack of signage ordering one about and warning one about every tiny danger.

I really think that the non-US Disney resorts are now very different and unique from the US ones. Part of it is cultural differences, but also the quality of the US parks and hotels plummeted in the past decade, as prices rose to outlandish levels. I strongly disagree that DLP is more expensive than the US counterparts.
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Old May 30, 12, 12:49 pm   #8
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you forgot to mention that DLP is IN FRANCE!!!
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Old May 30, 12, 4:59 pm   #9
 
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Crazy, isn't it, that a place called Disneyland Paris is in France! And that people there speak French! Perhaps people thought that it was actually located in Texas.

One more thing which I enjoy about EuropaPark is the multi-lingual aspect of the visitors. I can be chatting in German with someone one minute and have someone ask me for a light in French the next, and then try and decipher Schweizerdeutsch in the next. I honestly cannot recall if signage is in English, but I know that the website is quite extensively translated into English.

Hallowe'en is also a very good time to visit. Prices are a little lower, there is a ticketed event, and decorations are quite good at that time. I keep hoping to visit during the December season but never make it there.
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Old Jun 3, 12, 4:16 am   #10
 
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I've been to Disneyland Paris a couple of times (both with car and TGV) and I must say it's one of the better amusement parks I've been to so far.
Another park I can recommend is Parc Astérix, which is about 40km north of Paris, just off the A1 motorway. The thrill rides are definitely worth it, the only downside is that on busy days you can spend up to 2 hours cueing for a ride. The food is pretty decent too, miles ahead of the food in any amusement park in Belgium and roughly on par with Disney.
That said, I'd love to go to Europapark at some point.
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Old Jun 3, 12, 6:04 am   #11
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I've not been to Europapark but I have been to both the Disney parks in Tokyo.

I'd recommend Port Aventura in Salou near Barcelona in Spain, particularly if you can go in the off season and get a hotel deal (you don't need to go to an 'official' partner hotel as there are lots of nearby alternatives.)
Landscaping is lovely, some of the shows can be world class and a few of the thrill rides are much more 'thrilling' than those at the Tokyo Disney Parks (more at the level of that roller coaster that runs through a building in Kamakura Amusement Park in central Tokyo.)

Getting to Salou shouldn't be hugely expensive as you can get there relatively easily from Reus, Barcelona and even Girona airports. It's by the sea, there's Club Caribe next door for water attractions and there are other cities and towns to be explored near by. Worth considering if you haven't already. My own daughter LOVED the Tokyo Disney Parks but there was an awful lot she could go on as a 90cm tall child. I'll have to wait until she's considerably taller to take her to Port Aventura.
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Old Jun 3, 12, 3:13 pm   #12
 
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I went to EuropaPark once and it was a very nice experience. I liked the different parts("mini-countries") of the park.

I also suggest you look at the Efteling in the Netherlands. It's the 3rd largest amusement park in Europe(#1 being Disneyland Paris and #EuropaPark). It's a very good park which has won all kinds of prizes.
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Old Jun 3, 12, 10:59 pm   #13
 
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It doesn't sound like OP has children, but there are some child focussed parks still around which I think deserve a mention.

As a child we made frequent trips to Märchenpark Ruhpolding (which is now renamed as Freizeitpark Ruhpolding, and has a sister park Märchenpark Marquartstein http://www.maerchenpark.de/ )

The website is quite amusing (I always see that bunny as passing wind) with some surprises. But as a small child, I spent many a sleepless night after a visit, fearing that the Daumenlutscher would pay me a visit. I don't think that it relies quite so heavily on terrorising children into behaving via Struwwelpeter, but makes for a nice day out in a family park in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Does anyone remember the children's park near Königswinter, or perhaps Salzgitter? I believe that it may have morphed into something else, and only recall the scenes of Gulliver's Travels.

In the 1970's before Europa Park developed much it featured a deer park. (We seem to have visited a lot of those during that decade)
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Old Jun 4, 12, 3:57 am   #14
 
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Originally Posted by MaxJ91 View Post
I also suggest you look at the Efteling in the Netherlands. It's the 3rd largest amusement park in Europe(#1 being Disneyland Paris and #EuropaPark). It's a very good park which has won all kinds of prizes.
Efteling is a good idea, but quite time-consuming to get to if the OP doesn't have access to a car. It'll depend on where in Europe the OP is located really.
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Old Jun 4, 12, 5:08 am   #15
 
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Efteling is a good idea, but quite time-consuming to get to if the OP doesn't have access to a car. It'll depend on where in Europe the OP is located really.
Well obviously. But the same goes for all parks mentioned here

By public transportation it will take you about 2 hours from Amsterdam, 2:15 hours from Brussels and 2:30 hours from Düsseldorf.
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