One of the most fun days I’ve spent in recent memory was at Europa Park. Earlier this month, I treated S to a day at the Europe-theme amusement park for his birthday. S is a big kid at heart and would probably like nothing more than to spend all day, every day at an amusement park screaming at the top of his lungs atop the scariest roller coaster imaginable.
S and I had been trying to fit in a visit to Europa Park for a few months and finally found the chance on a rare Monday off to make the approximately 1.5 hour drive down to Rust, a tiny town in southwest Germany. The town’s main attraction is the colossal theme park which happens to be the largest theme park in Germany and the second most popular theme park in Europe after Disneyland Paris.
The park is designed around a European theme – each country in Europe is represented throughout the park in the style of rides, architecture, signs and even vegetation. I was pretty blown away with how detail-focused each country was, even down to the style of garbage cans! The white walls and olive trees in ‘Greece’ evoke the atmosphere of a Greek island and the roughhewn dark wood and sloped roofs make you feel as if you’re in the Swiss countryside.
Take your time to stroll through the park to admire all the European details throughout. It’s like taking a mini Euro trip all while staying in one place!
While the architecture is admirable, the main attraction at Europa Park is of course the rides. We didn’t get a chance to ride them all, but we were actually able to hit most of them in our roughly 8.5 hours at the park. Of course everyone has their own preferences about rides – perhaps for you, it’s the more death-defying, the better, while for others, it’s the sillier, the better. I’ve come up with my own personal list of favourites during our day at Europa Park – let me know if you agree!
Undoubtedly, the shakiest ride award goes to the Wodan Timbur Coaster. Europa Park’s newest coaster is 40m high and reaches speeds of up to 100km/h. This wooden giant is located in the ‘Iceland’ section of the park.
Most Overlooked and Underrated Ride
We stumbled on the Alpine Coaster Enzian as we were strolling through the ‘Austria’ section of the park. This ride was actually the park’s first coaster built in 1984 and races through the Austrian mountains. This 1 minute, 40 second little coaster also enters the ‘Magic World of Diamonds’ which was a pleasant surprise. This ride is great for families (minimum age to ride is 4 years old) since it’s fun and not scary as far as coasters go. The best part? Rumor has it that the lineup is usually pretty short – we only had to wait about 5 minutes to hop on the train.
Best Water Ride
We rode most of the water rides at the park (including the Atlantica Supersplash, Tirol Log Flume and Jungle Rafts) but our favourite was the Poseidon Coaster in ‘Greece’. Part roller coaster, part log ride, this ride was worth the 40 minute wait. We loved it so much we actually rode it again as our last ride of the day before the park closed.
Our first ride of the day was Volo Da Vinci in ‘Italy’. We had just entered the park and my eyes were as big as saucers soaking in the atmosphere. The line for this flight ride was only 5 minutes long (a big part of the appeal for me as I love to go on pretty much any ride with a short line). On this ride you hover 7 metres above the Italian themed area and pedal one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s flight machines. This 5 minute ride is also good for little ones (minimum age 3 years old). Very cute and worth a visit!
Most Uncomfortable Ride
Most rides have at least something going for them – they’re thrilling, fun or inventive. I have to say that I was the most disappointed by the Eurosat coaster. Located in the huge silver sphere in ‘France’, this dark coaster was hot, stuffy and made me feel extremely clausterphobic. Not only that, but the ride was herky jerky and actually left bruises on my hip bones the next day. Pass.
Scariest Roller Coaster
Two words: Silver Star. We’d been advised to ride the largest roller coaster at the park as the last ride of the day since no other ride can compare in terms of the thrill factor. This 73m high coaster also located in ‘France’ reaches peak speeds of 127 km/h and was until recently the highest roller coaster in Europe. Not for the faint of heart, I actually had a mild panic attack as the ride started up and had to use some deep breathing exercises to calm myself down. (Meanwhile S was smiling gleefully and having the best time ever). I must admit that I had my eyes closed for about 70% of this ride. Now that the ride is over and the time span of 3 weeks has dulled my residual fear, I can safely say that the Silver Star is pretty awesome (if you’re into scary rides).
Most Relaxing Ride
If you need a break from screaming your head off and throwing your arms into the air with reckless abandon, may I suggest a gentle cruise with Jungle Rafts? Located in Adventure Land (a non-country-themed area of the park), this jungle themed boat ride takes place on a lake. Take a breather, enjoy the scenery.
Ride with the Longest Wait
The ride with the longest wait of the day goes to the Matterhorn-Blitz in ‘Switzerland’. This 2 minute, 20 second ride only fits 4 people per train, hence the longer than average wait time. While you’re in line, soak up the Swiss farmhouse scenery (complete with animatronic rooster crows). Still, this ride does some twisty turns and thrilling nosedives, so it’s definitely worth the wait!
In keeping with the European theme, you can find food from all over Europe at the park. I loved stumbling upon a crepe stand in France, poffertjes (puff panckes) in the Netherlands and the Poseidon seafood platter in Greece. For lunch, we happened upon a quiet little restaurant in Iceland that served bagel sandwiches and pastries. It was a great oasis away from the other fast food stalls selling burgers and fries. We were especially impressed with the reasonable prices for food and drinks at the park – nothing was much more expensive than you’d find at any other food stand around Germany outside of a theme park.
A reflexion of France at Europa Park. Can’t believe we didn’t make it into this bakery! #europapark #Germany A photo posted by Kaffee und Kuchen (@kaffeeundkuchenblog) on
Tips & Suggestions
- We were lucky to be able to go to Europa Park on a Monday. Thursday through Sunday is incredibly busy with wait times on popular rides approaching the 2 hour mark. Our longest wait on the Monday when we went was only 45 minutes. If at all possible, come early in the week and arrive right when the park opens (9am).
- Bring sunscreen and water, especially in the summer. We went during the peak of the heat wave a few weeks back and we were glad to have both with us in our backpack. You can easily bring your own bag of things into the park. At each roller coaster, you can store your things in a locked cubby and pick it up after each ride. For smaller rides, you can stuff your bag at your feet in your cart.
- To save on money, you can bring a blanket and your own food for a picnic at the park. We saw a few families setting up picnics on stretches of lawn throughout the park.
- Wear comfortable shoes – you’ll be doing lots of walking at the park!
For more information about Europa Park, you can visit their main webpage.
How to get there: Europa Park is located in the town of Rust in southwest Germany. The park opens daily at 9am; closing time varies depending on the season (click here for detailed opening hours). Click here to learn more about how to get to the park if driving, using transit, or flying. Entrance prices are listed here.
Have you been to Europa Park or would you like to go? What’s your favourite ride? Let me know in the comments below!