Since 1987, the amusement park Nigloland has been located on the outskirts of the French village Dolancourt. It was founded by the showman brothers Gélis, following the example of Europa-Park in Rust. Over the years, the park has developed like no other French amusement park from a regional to a national destination in the middle of the beautiful Champagne region.
Anyone who now expects a park like the Walygator at Maizière-lès-Metz, due to the showmanship background of the park founders, will probably be pleasantly surprised. After entering Nigloland, the first glimpses fall on the beautifully shaped park landscape, which by French standards is simply outstanding. In this area you will find mainly more leisurely rides, such as the vintage car ride, the jungle raft ride or the grand prix, which looks amazingly similar to a certain ride from the Sauerland Fort-Fun Abenteuerland.
If you now turn left, you enter the Canadian part of Nigloland, which unfortunately is a dead end. Here you will find a log flume and a powered coaster made by Mack Rides as well as a nice little cogs ride.
The log flume Rivière Canadienne is, as so often in France, equipped with only one shot, but the layout is integrated wonderfully into the surroundings and thanks to the Train de la Mine, which is built in sections over the ride, a beautiful interplay of both rides is created. Even if the level of wetness was not particularly high, the ride alone is convincing due to its good condition and excellent decoration.
To get to the powered Train de la Mine you first have to leave the nicely designed queue behind you and climb into the depth of the mine. The ride itself is quite surprising and can show some funny changes of direction. The speed of the train is constantly high, even if the last curve during the last lap is a borderline experience.
Somewhat more hidden in this area are the Zamperla Disk’o Coaster Grizzli, as well as the station of the Mississippi boat tour. While the second ride opened later, Grizzli enjoyed many satisfied passengers. Just like the Cobra from the English Chessington World of Adventures, Grizzli is not only a great ride, but also offers an outstanding design.
Passing the ship swing Galion Pirate we now enter the righthand part of Nigloland. On this stretch of the path you usually meet a lot of people, so you might think that this area would be quite empty, which of course it is not. The first highlight in this area is the old Manoir Hanté, which is a bit on the edge of the path.
Through an access to the cellar you can reach the inside of the Manor House, where the ghosts are already waiting for you. In the self-built ride you take a ride in unique carriages, which turn more or less in the desired direction due to the inclination of the track. The ride is unexpectedly harmonious, both in terms of the rotation and the scenes. All of them genuinely tell a story line and are not stuffed with all kinds of junk like at the Geisterschloss in Europa-Park. Along with the comparable ride from Disneyland Park, this is definitely one of the better rides of its kind.
Back in daylight, the next highlight is already waiting in direct sight. The new for 2012 ride was still advertised in the brochure under the name Sky Fly, which has now been changed to Air Meeting – a name that does not necessarily make sense. Nevertheless, the prototype installation from Gerstlauer is something very special, which should be placed in a similar form in every theme park. Apart from the absolutely positive feedback from the audience, which looks up to the sky full of astonishment and wonders how one can make a rollover so quickly, the operators also have a lot of fun giving the flying audience tips for the perfect ride.
That these tips were mostly given with a reference to some of the pilots was at least an honour for me, after all the staff themselves were amazed what some pilots got out of the second day of the ride. During my first ride I was quite astonished how fast one could make a rollover, during the 90 seconds of driving time there were 39 more, which was about the normal number of rollovers. The second ride showed that it is still possible to bring the whole thing to the top, where even the centrifugal force became so strong that my glasses had the constant urge to be pushed outwards and slowly move away. Even after I let go of a wing because of this, the rotation did not decrease. The fact that you only see circles during the 80-90 rollovers underlines the extremes of the ride – if you want it that way.
During the rest of the day there was a constant urge to visit the ride again and again to show the French audience of Nigloland how it really works. Hardly any other ride in this park captivated us as much as Air Meeting did, even if it paid back on our shoulders in the late evening. One can only wish Gerstlauer all the best for the further marketing of this ride, because it is simply perfect in many respects and serves such a wide range of park guests. I have only seen very few rides like this before.
In the immediate vicinity of the air meeting you can see one of the most harmonious rides. Matching the 50s style and underlaid with a very great soundtrack, the Juke-Box is one of the most beautiful Schwarzkopf Monster. Apart of the look, the ride is not very interesting and even fast spinning ride is not really possible due to the padding in between the seats. However, the whole package is convincing.
The intergalactic travel agency Spatiale Expérience in the row of houses next to the Juke-Box knows the way into the depths of our universe. The ship which is waiting for its passengers is similar to the EuroSat roller coaster from the Europa-Park in Rust and so it is not surprising that the propulsion is also similar to that of the Rust model. The following ride is often described as quite brute and there is also talk about miscalculations by the company Mack Rides. However, this ride resembles more the indoor roller coaster Vogel Rok from Efteling and was quite amazing.
The trip through the galaxy features very ingenious interactions of right and left turns and offers a smoothness of running that one would not expect due to the prototype of Europa Park. The scenery during the ride is minimalistic but effective and the soundtrack to the ride is just great. The speed at which you race through the ride is constantly high, but the forces involved are just right, even the braking is almost harmless.
Apple Flight and Grand Roue
Past last year’s novelty, the Apple Flight from Zierer, which like all new wave swingers is somehow slow-moving, we go to the big attraction from Gerstlauer. We are talking about the Ferris wheel Grande Roue, which fits quite well into Nigloland, despite its transportable construction.
Next to it, the latest roller coaster Schlitt’Express is making its rounds. As with the other roller coasters in the park, great importance was given to a coherent appearance. The roller coaster itself fortunately corresponds to the standard layout of a wild mouse, only with minor changes, as you can see for example at the end of the ride. The cars have been adapted to the latest standard from Mack Rides, which is rewarded with very comfortable seats and great bars, but the possibility to crush each other in the curves is massively limited, which somewhat diminishes the fun of the ride.
In the small children’s area you will find the smallest roller coaster of the Nigloland, which was very popular in the afternoon. We’re talking about the Wacky Worm roller coaster Chenille, which even features a grown apple. I found it quite amusing that the staff was the only one who noticed that I was wearing my Gerstlauer Fleece Jacket, after all it wasn’t the warmest day despite the constant sunshine, but it didn’t make the ride better than it is.
With the Dinosaures Aventure, Nigloland offers a small walk-through attraction, which is enhanced by a preshow. If you understand the French language, it is even quite interesting to follow. The following dinosaurs, on the other hand, have all been seen somewhere, whether in the queue to Rasti-Land’s great rapid river, in the dinosaur park Münchehagen or in various other small theme parks. Honestly speaking, it could be better.
The most hidden entrance in all of Nigoland is at Schwarzkopf’s City Jet ride called Bobsleigh. Here it’s a little surprising that the queue basically runs above one half of the roller coaster, but is tastefully decorated as is typical for the park. The loading station is a bit awkward, as many of the park guests just stand in the way and the trains start with empty seats most of the time.
Once you have made it into the very spacious and comfortable vehicles, the journey can begin. Typical for this type of ride the lift is solved by an upward spiral with conductor rails. Once you reach the top, the ride goes down so abruptly that airtime forms in the back of the train. The following curves are so brutal that one is glad to have some short relaxing phases in between. The brakes at the end of the track are typical for the manufacturer, so it is best to hold on tight.
Nigloland gave me a lot of satisfaction during the day. Even when I lost my wallet in the meantime, thanks to the help of the very competent staff, I was able to quickly retrieve it without anything being missing, whereas in Hansa-Park it would have been lost forever. The park itself is charismatic and not as detached as many other family-run parks. There is a good atmosphere in the park, which is mainly created by the family audience, which knows how to behave very well. The reasonable price is simply outstanding for what is on offer, even though there is clearly room for improvement in the catering.
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