“One of the world’s leading theme parks”
Europa-Park… what should I say about it? That it’s one of the world’s greatest theme parks? Well… it certainly is. I’ve been visiting Germany’s largest theme park multiple times per year since 2000 and the park has never failed to amaze me. Every time I step through those gates, I’m surrounded by theme park awesomeness and a pure vacation feeling. Theming at Europa-Park isn’t on Disney level and you’ll definitely find more breathtaking roller coasters at other European parks. Besides, some shows are rather boring, especially because they’re almost completely in German. Still, no other theme park in Europe manages to perform so excellently as Europa-Park. The park is well known for its incredibly high ride capacity, a large variety of food offerings and several beautiful on-site hotels.
Europa-Park is divided in 15 different areas, most of them representing a European country. These themed lands offer rides, shows, national cuisine and even some local crafts. The most popular area at Europa-Park is without a doubt the Icelandic section. This popularity is mainly due to blue fire Megacoaster and Wodan Timbur Coaster, the two best roller coasters at Europa-Park. Blue Fire is a surprisingly smooth launched coaster, manufactured by Mack Rides. The best part of the ride is its final inversion, which literally tries to throw passengers out of their seats. The neighbouring Wodan is a 40-metre tall GCI wooden coaster with great theming. Although the layout may seem quite short, this is actually my preferred GCI in Europe. The ride is a little bumpy, but high speeds and plenty of near misses make up for that. Wodan is awesome!
The French quarter is another highlight. This area dominates the Europa-Park skyline thanks to Euro-Tower, Eurosat and Silver Star. The latter is the most notorious ride among coaster fans, but this isn’t necessarily positive. Some enthusiasts call it the largest kiddie coaster in Europe, but this is obviously exaggerated. Despite the fact that Silver Star doesn’t deliver the most intense coaster experience, it’s an excellent ride. The back seats guarantee great airtime, but personally I prefer the front seats because of the considerably smoother ride.
Silver Star is fantastic, but it’s not my favourite ride at the French quarter. This honour is reserved for Eurosat – CanCan Coaster. This attraction is clearly recognisable thanks to its enormous silver sphere (a touch of EPCOT in Europe). It used to be a rough, poorly themed indoor coaster. However, Europa-Park performed a major refurbishment in 2018. The sphere remained in place, but most other elements were changed. The renovation included new tracks, new theming and comfortable new trains with onboard audio. As its name suggests, Eurosat is themed to Moulin Rouge nowadays. The result of the makeover is wonderful: the queue and station are beautiful and the ride is smoother than a brand-new Mercedes. The decoration inside the sphere is simple, yet effective.
The Swiss area of Europa-Park may be small, but it features two of Europa-Park’s most beloved family coasters. Schweizer Bobbahn and Matterhorn Blitz are a bobsled coaster and a wild mouse, respectively. These coasters are mostly worth a visit because of their theming, but the actual rides aren’t that impressive. Schweizer Bobbahn is one of the shortest bobsled coasters in the world and Matterhorn Blitz is well… you know… a wild mouse. Crowds seem to adore these rides, but personally I wouldn’t get in line if the wait is longer than 20 minutes. The same conclusion applies to Alpenexpress Enzian (powered coaster), Pegasus (junior coaster) and a tiny kiddie coaster called Ba-a-a Express.
Ever wondered how a Russian dance club looks like? Europa-Park provides the answer in the queue and lift hill of Euro-Mir. Want to get a taste of Euro-Mir’s unique vibes? Open YouTube, search for the ride’s theme song and you’ll be partying before you know it. Anyway… Euro-Mir is one of the park’s landmarks, which is mainly due to its five cylindrical towers. Unfortunately, the actual ride doesn’t match Euro-Mir’s iconic status. This spinning coaster is shaky and it might even be (too) disorienting if you’re experiencing it backwards. Euro-Mir is a legendary ride and I can’t imagine Europa-Park without it, but it’s in need of a big refurbishment.
Most attractions at Europa-Park are suitable for the whole family. And in my opinion, the best family coaster is Arthur. This is a powered inverted coaster and it’s themed to the Arthur and the Minimoys films. I haven’t seen any of the films, but I’ve loved the attraction since my very first ride. It combines coaster elements with dark ride parts and the theming is very elaborate. The entrance to this ride can be found in an indoor area, which also offers several smaller kiddie rides.
My personal tip: try to plan your first visit to Europa-Park in summer. Their winter event is magical, but Europa-Park actually feels best in sunny, warm conditions. This is mainly due to the enormous amount of water-based attractions. Most of them are high-quality rides. Tiroler Wildwasserbahn includes a surprising dark ride section and Fjord Rafting is one of Europe’s most beautiful rapid rivers. However, the highlights in this segment are the water coasters.
Poseidon is the star in the Greek area. If you have a look on Instagram, you’ll quickly notice that it’s one of the most photographed attractions at Europa-Park. This doesn’t come as a surprise, as Poseidon is simply stunning. And it isn’t just photogenic; Poseidon delivers a fun ride as well. The first coaster section may be a little bumpy, but overall I enjoy Poseidon a lot. The same is true for Atlantica SuperSplash in Portugal. This ride is at least as attractive as its Greek sibling and the ride is pretty thrilling. My photo album proves that I adore the aesthetics of these both water coasters.
Europa-Park usually builds at least one new ride per year and that’s not any different in 2020. After opening the cute Scandinavian dark ride Snorri Touren during the 2019-2020 winter season, the big novelty of the summer season officially opened on 28 July 2020. I’m talking about Piraten in Batavia, which isn’t a novelty in the most literal sense of the word. The previous version of Piraten in Batavia was lost in a huge fire in 2018, but Europa-Park immediately decided to rebuild this huge dark ride. The outdoor facades were completely renewed and modern technologies were implemented to give the ride a fresh touch. May I praise the Mack family for this splendid new version of Piraten in Batavia? The scenes are incredibly detailed, the soundtrack is wonderful and the queue is stunning. We had to wait 45 years, but Europa-Park finally has a world-class dark ride in its portfolio. Amazing attraction!
Snorri Touren and Piraten in Batavia aren’t the only dark rides at Europa-Park. In fact, this park offers more dark rides than almost any other European park. Unfortunately, quantity and quality aren’t balanced correctly. Arthur and Piraten in Batavia are exceptions, but all other dark rides are kind of weak. They primarily consist of cheap-looking sets and the audio-animatronics aren’t on Disney level, to say the least. On a brighter note… most dark rides at Europa-Park never get significant queues, so these are ideal attractions to visit if you’re tired of waiting in line.
Roller coasters and water rides are the main draws for most visitors. However, Europa-Park offers an enormous variety of carousels and (boat) tours as well. I won’t bother you with a description of every attraction, but one particular ride needs some extra attention. I’m talking about Voletarium, one of the most expensive rides in the history of Europa-Park. Voletarium was inaugurated in 2017 and it was the first Flying Theatre in Germany. Consider it as Europa-Park’s answer to Disney’s extremely popular Soarin’. I wasn’t expecting much when I rode Voletarium for the first time, but it turned out to be a jaw-dropping experience. The attraction’s exterior looks great, the queue is very pretty and the music is powerful. I have to admit that I still prefer the Disney version and its mesmerizing soundtrack, but Europa-Park did a better job when it comes to theming and atmosphere.
Europa-Park counts as one of the continent’s largest leisure destinations and many people opt for a multi-day trip. The village of Rust offers many family-owned bed and breakfasts for a reasonable price, while the park’s official hotels cater to a luxury-loving crowd. Europa-Park currently owns six on-site hotels. All these accommodations boast a brilliant level of theming and they even have a certain Las Vegas flair. My favourites are the picturesque Hotel Colosseo (including a copy of the Colosseum and an Italian piazza) and the New England-themed Hotel Bell Rock. Good to know: these hotels offer cocktail bars and they also welcome external visitors. So even if you’re staying off-site, you can spend your evening at the Europa-Park Resort. This certainly is the cheapest option to enjoy the resort’s offerings, as staying at a Europa-Park hotel is quite pricey.
BEAT THE CROWDS
Europa-Park receives more than 5 million visitors per year, so it can get quite crowded here. The park is located in the heart of Europe, which guarantees a steady flow of visitors year-round. German school holidays obviously have a big influence on crowds, but Germans actually make up only 50 percent of the total attendance. This is also a beloved destination for French and Swiss guests and it’s getting increasingly popular in Belgium and the Netherlands. All these countries have different school and bank holidays, so it’s difficult to avoid them all. Luckily, Europa-Park is one of the world’s most efficiently operated theme parks. Lines for attractions move rapidly and the number of food outlets is enormous. Crowds don’t ruin your day at Europa-Park like they do at many other parks.
Europa-Park opens at 9 AM during the summer season and I recommend arriving before rope drop. The early morning will allow you to ride a few attractions without lengthy lines. If you’re here on a hot day, be sure to ride the water rides as early as possible. Especially Poseidon and Fjord Rafting are notorious for their long lines, so an early arrival may save more than an hour per ride. An early visit to Iceland is also a good idea. Wodan and Blue Fire are incredibly popular, so I recommend riding them before 10 AM or right before park closing time. Both coasters have a single rider line, but in my experience it doesn’t necessarily reduce your wait time. The single rider queues at Voletarium and Arthur are great, though. These attractions can often be ridden within a few minutes, as long as you’re willing to split up your party.
Europa-Park is known as one of the most hospitable theme parks on Earth. This is reflected in the incredibly fast operations and in the park’s variable closing time. The Europa-Park website states a 6 PM closing time for most days of the year, but the park often extends its operations according to crowds. I’ve visited the park many times and I noticed that a 6 PM closure is actually pretty rare. Europa-Park might even stay open until 8 o’clock (or later) on particularly busy days. The definitive closing time will be displayed throughout the park in the early afternoon. Note that variable closing times are temporarily suspended because of the coronavirus, but I’m sure that they will return sooner or later.
WORTH A VISIT?
If you ever get the chance to visit Europa-Park, definitely do so. This park will not disappoint and despite the current pandemic, I’m pretty sure that the park will continue to invest in a bright future. Europa-Park has been my favourite European theme park for the past 20 years and I’m quite sure that this won’t change any time soon. The park isn’t perfect; there are weaknesses. Dark rides are so-so, some staff members may seem a bit rude and copying Disney isn’t the thing you’d expect from a park with 5 million visitors annually. Still… the strong points make up for those weaknesses by a large margin. There’s a large number of great attractions, ride capacity is at its maximum, the overall level of theming is good and most food offerings are delicious.
I’ve made thousands of photos at Europa-Park, but you’ll find a “small” selection of 230 photos here. All photos were made between 2005 and 2020.
BACK IN TIME
FAIRY TALE FOREST
EUROPA-PARK HOTEL RESORT
Do you think that Europa-Park is the best theme park in Europe? Or in the world? Is Wodan the best roller coaster ever built by GCI? And don’t you think that the Europa-Park Hotel Resort looks better than almost any other theme park hotel on Earth? Share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this page.