NEDERLANDS // ENGLISH
Did you know that there’s an amusement park with a Mack family coaster located near the town of Rust? And no, I’m actually not talking about Europa-Park. We all know Germany’s largest theme park and we all know that they have a large array of Mack roller coasters. But there’s another theme park which is located very close to a village called Rust. It’s called Familypark and the park’s highlight is… a YoungStar Coaster built by Mack Rides. Pretty good fun fact to use in a theme park quiz, right?
It’s perfectly possible that you’ve never heard of Familypark and that’s okay. The park is located in Austria and this country is not the ultimate roller coaster destination. Austria has no great theme parks like the ones in Germany and it also lacks the impressive B&Ms you’ll find in Spain and the United Kingdom. Apart from the world-famous Wiener Prater, Austrians should be happy with regional amusement parks. Familypark, which was called Familienpark Neusiedlersee in a previous life, is one of those regional parks.
Family park is my first destination during a short visit to Austria. And honestly, it’s quite time-consuming to get here if you don’t rent a car. I’m able to arrange an Uber from Vienna Airport (which takes me to the park in approximately 50 minutes), but there’s no such possibility for getting back to the city. The alternative is a 2-hour bus ride to Vienna Central Station. In other words, I had to invest quite some time in this visit.
It immediately becomes clear that Familypark contains quite some theming. One of those nicely themed (but rather odd looking) areas is the Märchenwald. Just like Efteling and Europa-Park, Familypark has its own fairy tale forest. Obviously, the Austrian version doesn’t even come close to Efteling’s famous Fairy Tale Forest. Even the questionable Märchenwald at Europa-Park is themed in a better way, but the atmosphere is just right here at Familypark. That atmosphere is partly generated by not-so-fashionable Hansel and a Little Red Riding Hood which appears to live in a red lights district.
Believe it or not: you’ll also find an attraction within the fairy tale forest. That attraction is Geisterschloss, a haunted house that looks very charming from the outside. Of course, I initially hoped to find a dark ride with doom buggies, but that’s obviously not the case here at Familypark. However, I do end up in a walk-through along simple, yet effective scenes. There are some good special effects and the fact that I’m all alone contributes to the creepy atmosphere.
Did I travel all the way to Familypark for a paper-maché fairy tale forest? Or did I come here for a small-sized haunted house? No, I didn’t. So let’s check out Familypark’s roller coasters next. According to the Roller Coaster Database there are 4 coaster credits waiting to be ridden. However, two of them are actually not worth to be called a roller coaster. One of them is so small that you could simply stumble over it and another one is a simple Butterfly. For those who don’t know that model: a Butterfly is literally nothing more than a swing. Not a must for me.
Fortunately, the other two coasters are more impressive. And that applies to both the ride experience and the theme. One of those roller coasters is Rattenmühle, a Bobsled Coaster built by Gerstlauer. Don’t be fooled: this type has nothing to do with bobsleds. It’s just a crazy name for an extended version of a classic Wild Mouse. Despite its strangely chosen name, this is actually one of Gerstlauer’s nicest coaster models. These rides are characterized by smooth courses, curvy layouts and lots of fun on a limited surface. Rattenmühle meets all these requirements and it’s therefore a great coaster. Besides, the track was beautifully integrated in a forest and the station looks stunning. Good job.
Familypark isn’t that famous. I can even imagine that many European amusement park fans have never heard of it. That’s understandable – it’s not a thrilling park, to say the least – but Familypark has surprised me in a positive way. It’s clear that park designers pay a lot of attention to overall atmosphere and detailing. That results in a beautiful park and some standard attractions are decorated very convincingly. This theme park near the Austrian Neusiedler Lake actually has better theming than many bigger, more frequented theme parks in Europe.
Thanks to its abundance of family-oriented attractions and the unique decoration, Familypark reminds me of Tripsdrill. Everything’s a bit smaller here, but the similarities are huge. Just like Tripsdrill, Familypark puts great effort in maintenance, originality and natural beauty.
In my opinion, the most interesting part of Familypark is the so called Abenteuerinsel. This zone is built in a Mediterranean style and it contains most major attractions. Here, you’ll find a water playground, a water slide with rubber boats, a swinging ship and…
… one of Europe’s most beautiful flat rides. It’s called Leonardos Flugmaschine and it’s a Sky Fly manufactured by Gerstlauer. You might recognize this plane carousel from Duinrell, Blackpool Pleasure Beach or Nigloland. The ride is always a hit for spectators and as a passenger, you’re able to make the ride as intense as you prefer. However, it must be said that most of these attractions don’t have the most exceptional decoration on Earth. Familypark proves that things can be done differently: Leonardos Flugmachine is a stunning ride. It would fit perfectly within the Italian quarter of Europa-Park and it would even look great in the Venetian zone of Tokyo DisneySea. I know that’s a bold statement, but this is literally one of the most amazing flat rides I’ve ever seen.
The ride experience of Leonardos Flugmaschine doesn’t differ from the other versions. You can make quite a few inversions in it, but that doesn’t seem important for the average Familypark visitor. In fact, my fellow passengers don’t even touch their movable wings and they experience a rather tame ride.
Another true Familypark beauty is the Krokobahn. This miniature log flume features a beautiful station, stunning landscaping and nicely themed boats. This attraction once again reminds me of Tripsdrill, where they have a similar log flume for children (in an equally original theme). Unfortunately, Krokobahn is really only interesting for the little ones. And honestly, a larger water ride is the only thing I really miss at Familypark. I’m thinking about a medium-sized rapid river like the one at Toverland. Or what about a copy of Skatteøen, the water roller coaster that Mack Rides built at Djurs Sommerland?
That water roller coaster doesn’t exist (yet), but I’m able to enjoy other Mack attractions at Familypark. One of them is Götterblitz, the largest roller coaster within the park. Please don’t expect too much from it, because this is the YoungStar Coaster I mentioned earlier. Thanks to an extra helix, it’s slightly longer than the Europa-Park version, but the ride experience doesn’t feel that different at all. The first drop is great and the curves contain more power than you might expect, but it remains a roller coaster dedicated to families with children. Familypark once again created a lovely station and the track winds through a beautiful area. I’m only wondering if Phantasialand would appreciate the fact that the River Quest soundtrack is played in the queue area.
If you’re visiting Familypark on a Tuesday in May, you’ve got the park to yourself. Or at least, that’s what I experience today. There’s a handful of families with young children, but staff are literally waiting for me at almost every attraction. That’s nice, but it also makes you realise that the park isn’t meant for a 29-year old guy. Yet, I don’t regret my short trip to the Austrian Burgenland. I’m a fan of theme parks rather than amusement parks and Familypark is definitely a theme park. The park pays a lot of attention to atmosphere, landscaping and decoration. As a result, a wonderful day out for young families is guaranteed here. I consider Familypark as a smaller version of Tripsdrill or as the less commercialised brother of Plopsaland De Panne.
Do you have some spare time during a city trip to Vienna? Do you happen to be in the area? Or did your GPS system accidentally send you to the wrong Rust? Then a visit to Familypark isn’t a waste of time. Still, this isn’t necessarily a must-do for roller coaster enthusiasts either. Especially thrill seekers will notice the lack of spectacular rides at Familypark. Fifty kilometers to the north, however, you’ll find a great spot for coaster hunting. There, in the middle of Vienna, lies a park that has no less than 13 roller coasters on offer. The quest for a coaster bingo will be rather expensive and you’ll need to make four (!) rides on a wild mouse, but oh well… Life of a coaster enthusiast is hard sometimes. To be continued at Wiener Prater.