NEDERLANDS // ENGLISH
It’s Wednesday 14th August and today, Phaedra and I are going to Movie Park Germany. As its name implies, this is a movie-themed amusement park in western Germany. In the past, this place was known as “Hollywood in Germany” and they used slogans such as “Hooray! I’m in the movies!”. As a result, this will obviously be a day of cinematic proportions. But does Movie Park Germany deliver an incredible action movie, will it be pure horror or does this day turn into a real drama? Time to find out.
Waze promised us that we would arrive promptly at 9.45 AM, but things turn out differently. Traffic is kind of heavy this morning, which delays our arrival with approximately 45 minutes. And next, it takes more than 15 minutes to access the parking lot. We clearly weren’t the only people who thought about visiting Movie Park today. It’s August and weather is nice, so everyone suddenly seems to plan a visit to an amusement park. Even the lawn across the bridge (I thought this was only used during the insanely busy Halloween period) is being used as an overflow parking lot this morning. We won’t be alone, that much is clear.
Despite the crowds, there aren’t any lines to access the park. Besides, we don’t pay a cent to enter Movie Park Germany. Our Bobbejaanland annual pass already saved us a lot of money in Madrid, but it also guarantees free admission to Movie Park. That’s a great start of the day and we hope to continue that good momentum. With queue-less rides on roller coasters, for example. A typical amusement park visitor always starts his/her day at the front of the park, so it always helps to walk towards the back of the park early in the morning. It works. While the big crowds are squeezing themselves inside the queues of Area 51 or The Lost Temple, we find out that the northern part of the park is still relatively empty.
This part of Movie Park is home to the most spectacular roller coasters. We actually wanted to ride Bandit, but we notice that this wooden coaster won’t open until 11 o’clock. Alternatively, we opt for a round on MP-Xpress. That sounds like some sort of train ride through the park, but it isn’t. No, it’s a roller coaster. And let me get straight to the point: it won’t make you happy. This standard Vekoma SLC doesn’t have any decoration, the sign has faded and its staff are incredibly rude. The actual ride isn’t any better. The first 3 inversions are quite okay, but MP-Xpress gets very shaky afterwards. Headache-Xpress would be a more suitable name for this torture machine.
Talking about headaches… Bandit isn’t the smoothest ride on Earth either. And once again, my first impression is bad. The doors open 10 minutes late and the first train isn’t dispatched until 11.20 AM. Terrible service, if you ask me. If an amusement park opens at 10 o’clock, I expect all major attractions to be operational. Bandit is one of those major attractions and it’s unacceptable that it takes nearly 90 minutes to get the ride up and running. Bandit’s ride experience doesn’t blow my mind either. However, I must admit that Bandit runs considerably smoother than expected. I remembered 1.099 terribly painful coaster metres, but it’s not too bad today. We were in the middle of a carriage (always recommended with woodies) and the ride is quite enjoyable there. It could use a little more airtime and speed, but all in all this is an excellent family roller coaster. The nicely themed station building is a nice touch.
Bandit is rather tame, but a big thrill is just around the corner. The High Fall is probably the most famous thrill ride of Movie Park. This 61-metre tall free-fall tower is impressive and it can be seen from afar. I conquered it during previous visits, yet I cannot motivate myself to take a ride today. I’d like to mention that The High Fall was nicely integrated in the Old West part of Movie Park, but it’s a shame that they didn’t come up with a more original name.
We are visiting a movie-themed amusement park, so it isn’t surprising that there’s an area dedicated to Los Angeles. I’m talking about Santa Monica Pier, an area filled with family rides. The most striking examples are a Ferris wheel, a Disk’o Coaster and a cool jet ski carousel. We pay a visit to Pier Patrol – Jet Ski because of its short line, but that’s the only thing we do at Santa Monica Pier. The range of attractions is okay, but the area is rather unimpressive. Rides are standard, queues aren’t themed at all and the German version of the Pacific Ocean looks sad. The real Santa Monica Pier is a lot more interesting, don’t you think?
And then suddenly, there’s no way to escape the lines any longer. The Star Trek roller coaster has a posted wait of 50 minutes and a ride on Van Helsing’s Factory would be even more time-consuming. It therefore seems a good idea to have lunch first. And after having a lovely chicken teriyaki sandwich at the local Subway, we decide to conquer the line for Star Trek – Operation Enterprise.
Star Trek opened in 2017, which means that it’s the newest roller coaster at the park. That’s noticeable in the waiting area, which is considerably better themed than most other queues at Movie Park. There are some references to the movie series and a specially composed soundtrack enhances the atmosphere. The high theming level continues during the pre-show, but I’m not a fan of it. Roller coasters are often the rides you want to visit multiple times, but pre-shows drastically lower my interest to ride again. Besides, in this case it’s a meaningless and rather boring pre-show. Although I understand that Movie Park wants to clarify Operation Enterprise’s story line, I wouldn’t mind if they removed this pre-show. The added value is zero.
Does the ride make up for this boring pre-show? I’d say yes. However, let’s start with the bad news: in terms of decoration, the actual ride is worthless. In contrast to the queue, the coaster itself doesn’t feature any space theme. Besides, it’s far from the most thrilling ride on Earth. Star Trek is a relatively tame roller coaster that could use some extra speed. Luckily, there’s some good news as well. The backward spike, for example, is incredible (make sure to choose a seat near the back of the train to experience this element in the best possible way) and the ride is wonderfully smooth. That’s why I don’t care about the absence of theming and the limited sensation: Operation Enterprise puts a big smile on my face anyway. I could ride this coaster all day long, but could I skip the pre-show, please?
We save our second ride on Star Trek for later and we walk towards the other side of the park. It once again becomes clear that the park is packed today: Nickland is extremely crowded during the afternoon. This zone is based on Nickelodeon and it features plenty of attractions for the whole family. I’m talking about a small-sized Star Flyer…
… a brand-new area based on Paw Patrol…
… some kiddie roller coasters…
… and a classic Wild Mouse manufactured by Mack Rides.
In other words: there are a lot of rides at Nickland, but you especially need a lot of patience when visiting the park in August. Since we don’t want to queue more than 45 minutes for simple family roller coasters, we only ride the land’s biggest attraction. I’m talking about Excalibur, a rapid river. This attraction looks completely different than most other rapid rivers on Earth. This is due to the medieval decoration and the fact that a major part of the ride can be found indoors. Indoor attractions are generally easier to theme and that definitely applies in this case. Nevertheless, Excalibur looks dated and that’s a little strange for a ride which only reopened last year (the original version of the ride has been in the park since 1996). The new theming elements may look great, but it seems as if Movie Park didn’t pay much attention to existing scenes. And to make things even worse, capacity is dramatically low today. We ended up waiting 55 minutes in a queue that would take less than 15 minutes at Efteling or Europa-Park.
Excalibur doesn’t exactly fit within a Nickelodeon-themed land, but it’s without a doubt the best water ride in this area. Dora The Explorer’s log flume looks like it belongs on a funfair and the SpongeBob Splash Battle isn’t a beauty either. In fact, that’s the general feeling at Nickland: it is a fairly simple zone with cheap-looking scenery. That’s a big contrast to the beautiful Looney Tunes Land that used to be here, but most kids don’t seem to have a problem with that. I’m getting old.
Another water ride opened just one week before our visit. However, it’s not exactly new: Area 51 – Top Secret is an updated version of Bermuda Triangle, the shoot-the-chutes that has been next to the park’s Main Street for years. The attraction is currently in soft-opening and I’m curious about the changes that Movie Park has made. And apparently I’m not the only one: the queue is full during the afternoon. Although the first part of the queue is amusing (watching Star Trek from up-close, yay!) the second part is pretty boring. It takes 80 minutes to reach the loading dock, but is Area 51 good enough to justify this waiting time? No, not really. Most of the scenes haven’t changed at all and the background story is just as unclear as it was before. It seems as if they invested a lot of money in the ride’s technology, but theming remained mostly unchanged. So please don’t expect any major changes. That’s not necessarily bad – I always considered Bermuda Triangle as an excellent family attraction – but I really expected the renovation to be more profound. The biggest surprise of today’s ride is actually the splash: we both exit Area 51 pretty soaked.
Area 51 isn’t the only attraction near the park entrance. You’ll find the entrance to The Lost Temple right next to this boat ride. This is an Immersive Tunnel. Although these rides are typically surprising the first time, they quickly get boring and predictable afterwards. Especially now that I’ve seen similar rides at Lotte World, Islands of Adventure and Bobbejaanland, it doesn’t interest me at all. So queueing 40 minutes for such a dull 3D experience? No, thank you. We do pay a visit to the park’s other dark ride, though. It’s called Time Riders and it can be found at the New York City area. This simulator used to be themed to Batman during the Warner Bros era, but it had to be rethemed during Movie Park’s rebranding. Unfortunately, it’s quite clear that Time Riders was a remake with a limited budget. The pre-shows are simple and the actual ride is disappointing. That’s due to a bizarre story line and the poor quality of the screens. Only visit Time Riders if you have time to spare and if there’s no line.
You may notice that Movie Park Germany isn’t exactly my favourite theme park in Europe. Still, the two most recently added roller coasters aren’t bad at all. Operation Enterprise is an amazing ride and the nearby Van Helsing’s Factory is quite good too. This indoor coaster replaced a cult attraction called Gremlins Invasion and it can be found in the northern half of the park. There was an 80-minute queue during the afternoon, but we’re lucky enough to encounter a shorter wait of just 45 minutes. Van Helsing’s queue is one of the nicest themed queues in the entire park, but unfortunately the line moves rather slowly. That’s due to a limited capacity (the ride features 4-seater vehicles) and to the fact that Express-passes get priority. Still, this really is a great coaster. Van Helsing’s Factory isn’t very tall or fast, but it provides a lot of fun. Gerstlauer built an ultra-smooth roller coaster, the decoration is original and the ride takes longer than I initially expected. This is how every family roller coaster should be.
We take another ride on Operation Enterprise and we then decide to leave the park. There is no doubt that we had a great day. The weather was beautiful and it’s always nice to get free admission. However, day tickets for Movie Park Germany cost nearly 45 euros when bought at the counter. The park isn’t worth that, if you ask me. Although they’ve got some nice water rides and the coasters aren’t bad by European standards, Movie Park is a rather underwhelming place. Theming is limited and ride capacity often seems to be a problem here. Excalibur and Area 51 both have a huge theoretical capacity, but their lines moved dramatically slowly today. This problem shouldn’t be too difficult to fix.
All in all, I may conclude that the park isn’t mind-blowing, but it isn’t horrible either. It only seems as if Movie Park prefers quantity over quality. As a result, the park has developed a wide range of attractions, but very few of them are outstanding. You shouldn’t search for the world’s best roller coaster, the most beautiful dark ride or the best themed water attraction here. But if you’re looking for a pleasant day out with the whole family, Movie Park may be exactly the place you need. Just buy a Bobbejaanland annual pass first… deal?