Batavia is burning – and you want to go there?

Well, who would have thought that Batavia would actually burn down one day. Two years after the disaster at Europa Park, we were determined not to miss the new edition of the Piraten in Batavia dark ride, as well as some of the other novelties of the last three years.

The Voletarium in the entrance area of the amusement park marks the beginning of our little round-up. The ride is the first project under the guise of the Adventure Club of Europe, a fictitious adventurer’s club that links the innovations of the last few years a little bit and is therefore also supposed to function as a trademark of Europa Park. As with the new water park Rulantica, this is taken ad absurdum by various novels, making it difficult to follow the plot once again.

Leaving it at the essentials, however, the Voletarium is a so-called Flying Theatre by the company Brogent Technologies. The flight simulator offers a breathtaking, but very family-friendly, flight through Europe. However, not every transition between the individual scenes is successful, nor logically implemented, so that the film comes across as a little weak in comparison to the really well-done film of Fuji Airlines in Japan’s Fuji-Q Highland or that of Sky Voyager in Australia’s Dreamworld.

Nevertheless, the Voletarium’s location enhances the front section of the park. The ride is coherent overall and is ideal as a ride for in-between.

It’s the same with Jim Knopf – Reise durch Lummerland. In the best Europa Park style, they did not miss the opportunity to integrate another licence into the park – this time one that is mainly known in German-speaking countries. The children’s locomotive Old’99, which previously had a circus theme, was redesigned for this purpose. It’s old decoration found a new home in a small pavilion of the neighbouring marionette boat ride. Accordingly, you now travel with Emma the locomotive through Lummerland, well-known from the book by Michael Ende, which is a really great experience, especially for smaller children.

It’s a similar story with the immensely popular dark ride Snorri Touren, which moved into the basement of the Scandinavian themed area when it was rebuilt. On this tour, Snorri – the mascot of the Rulantica water park – leads us through the legendary water world outside the gates of Rust. Thanks to the vivid design and the largely successful media integration, the ride does a lot of things right – only the short slide sequence, in which the car drives onto a moving platform, is reminiscent of early Playstation 2 titles due to its spongy graphics, and thus dulls the actually coherent overall impression immensely.

Something you can somehow forgive the cute Snorri for, you can’t forgive Madame Freudenreich for the life of her – after all, the Universum der Energie used to be the most coherent dark ride in the entire theme park. Now the ride is no longer even a shadow of its former self, but an attraction you should at best stay away from. Smaller children might still enjoy the Alsatian gugelhupf dinosaur mash, but I can’t think of anyone else who could halfway tolerate this baloney.

It’s a good thing that the Green Fairy has moved in directly above it. Since its redesign, the indoor roller coaster Eurosat CanCan Coaster has taken us on a sensory intoxication. Driven by absinthe and the familiar sounds of In A Second Orbit, we climb up the drum lift in familiar fashion before the Galop Infernal kicks in and we basically encounter a brand new roller coaster.

Like in a CanCan, we swing through the curves. Past large black-light backdrops, we race faster and faster through the dome and are even lifted out of our seats a little in between. The fact that the experience is absolutely smooth makes the ride all the better.

Eurosat has always been a good indoor roller coaster. A bit rough on the ride, but quite entertaining. Eurosat CanCan Coaster on the other side is one of the roller coasters of Europe. Perfectly balanced, atmospheric and with a great show value. Everything is just perfect on this ride.

But that really only applies to the CanCan Coaster. There is also Eurosat Coastiality. While one side has been able to soar to new heights thanks to its collaboration with the Moulin Rouge Variety Theatre, the other side is betting on a VR experience based on Luc Besson’s Valerian – The City of a Thousand Planets.

In principle, I find VR roller coasters fun and Europa Park has already shown on the Alpenexpress Enzian what you can squeeze out of a roller coaster. Despite the outdated graphics, the first film was a revelation beyond compare. After that, many parks joined the VR trend and there seemed to be no stopping them. Fortunately, as quickly as the trend came, it disappeared again, so it’s a little surprising that Europa Park is the only park in the world that continues to promote the technology. Thanks to the resort’s stand-alone attraction Yullbe, however, this is actively no longer happening in the parks.

Eurosat Coastiality is, at least in theory, an extremely passable upcharge attraction that barely if at all affects the capacity of the Eurosat CanCan Coaster thanks to a separate station, which eliminates one of the main points of criticism of VR roller coasters. However, the ride is strenuous and not very impressive thanks to the outdated graphics. The show value of the roller coaster is completely lost, which is why there is no incentive for a repeat ride.

Meanwhile, the dark ride Piraten in Batavia, which has undergone a complete makeover thanks to the new construction, offers plenty of reasons to go on a ride. What was previously a long-winded rip-off version of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean is now much more independent thanks to a consistent storyline around the adventurer Bartholomeus van Robbemond and his otter Jopie. The Piraten in Batavia ride is thoroughly entertaining and offers an overall high show value, which is why it should by no means be missed.

As you can see, Europa Park has been in quite a redesign frenzy in recent years. Some of the projects were long overdue and some of the park’s attractions would actually still like to see such changes. Not every upgrade is a success and not every licence is a plus for the park, but in general the Mack family’s drive is positive. They are trying to show a world-class amusement park to an ever-growing number of visitors, but unfortunately they often forget that great attractions do not need additional media integration.


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A visit to the original Movie World

Warner Bros. Movie World is one of the best-known theme parks in Germany and one of the most influential movie parks in the world.  The park was founded in 1991 by the film studio Village Roadshow, which belongs to WarnerMedia, and is the model for our local Movie Park Germany. From 1996 to 2004, the film park was also known as Warner Bros. Movie World. The Spanish theme park Parque Warner Madrid is also based on the park on the Gold Coast and continues to use the licences of WarnerMedia.

While Parque Warner Madrid is a huge park and Movie Park Germany is also of respectable size, Warner Bros Movie World is rather small. Apart from the Main Street, which is well-known to visitors of Movie Park Germany, the park only consists of a small children’s area, the log flume Wild West Falls and a DC Heroes themed area, where almost all attractions of the amusement park are located.

This area is located directly at the entrance of the amusement park, but is not a dead end due to the clever integration of the roller coaster Arkham Asylum. Right at the beginning we come across the Green Lantern Coaster, an El Loco from S&S.

Climbing the steep and fast lift, it quickly goes into a combination of curves without any cross slope, which shortly afterwards leads into a steep 120.5° drop. The associated world record was short-lived, as Takabisha opened in Fuji-Q Highland just a few months later. With a small sideways turn, it immediately goes up to the first block brake.

This is followed by a curve that could be used more often in various roller coasters, as the outwardly inclined section of the track is quite impressive. Unfortunately, this part is completed soon after and a seemingly conventional curve follows, which, however, becomes more and more inclined towards the end and quickly puts you in an overhead position. The hangtime is very pronounced and you are quite happy to fall towards the ground in a half loop shortly afterwards. However, the ride is not over yet and another incline with a subsequent barely regulating block brake follows. The last traditional curve comes next, which ends in a downhill heartline roll – actually the most interesting element of the ride. A trivial turnaround in the form of an Immelmann turn follows, after which the ride ends abruptly.

Thanks to the wider cars and the increased ride comfort due to the lack of shoulder claws, the ride on the Green Lantern Coaster is much more fun compared to other (almost) identical rides. The ride is exciting and bizarre – basically a bit Loco.

Directly opposite is the Batwing Spaceshot, a vertical drop ride by S&S, which takes you up to a height of 61m at high speed. Once you’ve reached the top, you’ll get a good dose of airtime and a big grin in your face.

The entrance to the dark ride Justice League: Alien Invasion 3D is located in a hall behind it. Previously, the simulator Batman: The Ride was located here. The dark ride, developed by the Sally Corporation, combines large plastic scenes with 3D screens where you have to fight off the aliens of the villain Starro before they take control of all mankind. It’ s the kind of delightful fun you’d expect from Sally. The ride itself was later the inspiration for Justice League: Battle for Metropolis, which can be found in various Six Flags parks.

One of the reasons to visit Warner Bros Movie World is the DC Rivals HyperCoaster. The roller coaster by Mack Rides has a breathtaking out & back layout including a highly twisted first drop, a 40m tall non-inverted loop, as well as a multitude of breathtaking turns and airtime hills and the possibility to experience it backwards for a small extra charge. It’s just a shame that the roller coaster was closed during my visit.

The DC Rivals HyperCoaster was not all that was closed on the day I visited. Actually, the Village Roadshow Theme Parks allow quite easy planning of the visit, because there is a maintenance calendar for each individual park, but they don’t plan these periods very well, so that the individual attractions usually have a longer maintenance period. At the same time, however, visitors are not informed about this, so that they are first confronted with it on site. Other amusement parks that are open all year round, such as the Disneyland Parks or Efteling, show how it could be done better, and the nearby Dreamworld amusement park does it better without question.

Thus, once past the closed Roxy Theatre, we were drawn to the children’s area on the right-hand side of the main street. Some time ago, this was where the Looney Tunes River Ride used to be, but it was replaced by a covered money printing machine, the Junior Driving School. The Road Runner Roller Coaster, the theme park’s first roller coaster, has been located in the outdoor area in front of it since the year 2000.

Interestingly, the children’s roller coaster Coyote’s und Roadrunner’s Achterbahn from the German branch of Warner Bros. Movie World was used as a model for this roller coaster, but the elaborate rock structure of the roller coaster was not used on the Gold Coast. The coaster does, however, have a second train, which means that you only do one lap at a time through the tried-and-tested roller skater layout of the manufacturer Vekoma.

Past the small collection of children’s rides, we are now drawn to the theme park’s big stunt show. Hollywood Stunt Driver 2 offers a similar spectacle to Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular from the Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris and thus a very strong focus on filming with a few selected performers. We can be glad that Movie Park Germany continues to focus on a jam-packed stunt show like the original Police Academy Stunt Show with Crazy Cops New York. Unfortunately, the show over here was no good.

A roller coaster has moved into the former Gremlins dark ride building at both Warner Bros. Movie World theme parks over the years. Here on the Gold Coast, the Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster was created in 2002 and is based on the Scooby Doo live-action film of the same year.

The ride begins with the familiar ghost train ride from the film. The whole thing is peppered with a few small drops, swinging axes and animatronics worth seeing. Basically, the Spooky Doo Spooky Coaster is a dark ride well worth seeing, but then we enter the ride’s vertical lift. Accompanied by a scene in which Scrappy Doo mutates into a monster, we leave it facing backwards. Shortly afterwards we plunge down a 7m drop. On the other side of the ride we change direction again on a turntable. Accompanied by the song Scooby Doo, Where are you? we now go through the well-known course of a classic wild mouse. Where we would normally expect a double shot, we drive straight into a brake after only one shot. Shortly afterwards, we leave the Sound Stage, where a large part of the roller coaster is located. After a short interlude, another 3m high drop awaits us and soon the exit station of the ride.

Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster is a great roller coaster, but thanks to its limited capacity it often has a longer queue. However, the ride in the extended Wild Mouse is quite something and makes you leave the ride in a good mood – although the actual roller coaster ride mainly takes place in a dark hall with a light show.

Passing the Doomsday Destroyer – a suspended version of the popular Kamikaze ride built by Intamin – which offered a very solid ride, we now approach the western area of the theme park. The only attraction in the area is the log flume Wild West Falls, the only remaining attraction based on the film Wild Wild West. Originally, however, the ride was supposed to be based on the film Rio Bravo, which is also reflected in the existing theming of the ride.

After crossing the rather long queue, you can immediately take a seat in one of the boats. Shortly afterwards, the boat bobs past the maintenance hall of the ride towards the first lift hill. Once you have reached the top, you drive into the huge mountain massif where the first turntable is waiting for you. This then releases the boat into the first shot, which is completed backwards. This is followed by a small hill. Shortly afterwards, the descent into the cool water starts, whereby the level of wetness is still very manageable. After a bend, you reach another turning point, whereupon the boat moves forward again. The river now takes you unspectacularly through a canyon, an Indian village and the western town of Dogde City before entering the mine again. Once you reach the highest point of the ride, you are brought into position again via a turntable, whereupon the second and final shot is initiated. When you reach the bottom, you are pleasantly moistened. This is followed by the return journey to the station.

I love water rides from Hopkins and Wild West Falls is an all-round successful water ride with a great setting and two breathtaking drops. However, compared to the log flume Rio Bravo from Parque Warner Madrid, it is in many ways the weaker ride. The revision of Wild West Falls, built by Intamin, scores mainly with its airtime, which is unfortunately completely missing here on the Gold Coast. The ride in Spain also seems to be in a slightly better state. Nevertheless, the log flume Wild West Falls is not to be missed.

On the way to the next attraction, we stopped by the WB Studio Showcase, where some props from recent WB productions, including The Great Gatsby, Shazam!, Suicide Squad and Mad Max, were on display during our visit. Unfortunately, this was also the only attraction that took up the original idea of the movie park. I would have liked to see more of this.

The Vekoma Suspended Coaster Arkham Asylum – Shock Therapy should have been open on the day we visited. On a later day, the ride was also closed until further notice. In fact, the coaster has not been operated since then and will probably disappear from the park soon. I would have loved to do a lap on the SLC with its bonus helix, as the ride also featured the VR film known from Parque Warner.

The last attraction on our tour is the Superman Escape roller coaster. The queue for the roller coaster is rather inconspicuous and ends in front of automated doors behind which the MRT (Metropolis Rapid Transit) underground can be boarded.

The journey begins quite leisurely. However, it soon becomes clear that our situation is a little more tricky. Warnings of earthquakes ensure that we do not stop at the next stations. Burst gas pipes, which led to the blowing up of a pumping station, cause the railway tunnel to flood and suddenly police cars also crash into the tunnels. Although the situation seems hopeless, Superman comes to our rescue at the last moment. What follows is a breathtaking rollercoaster ride, starting with an insanely good hydraulic launch.

At a good 100 km/h we immediately climb a 40m high top hat, which we enter straight and leave to the side. After a high-pressure right turn along the ground, we immediately enter an airtime-rich camelback. This is followed by a left turn where we drive through a hall. After another turn, the path leads us through a further right turn close to the ground before we change direction again on the following hill and soon find ourselves in the braking section of the ride.

Superman Escape is a mercilessly good roller coaster. The ride through the compact layout is extremely tough and convinces with its fast turns and great airtime. Unfortunately, however, the roller coaster is only located at Warner Bros Movie World and not here at Movie Park Germany, which in turn reveals some weaknesses. The low capacity of the ride in a a one train operation is exacerbated by the high number of fast pass users, so that unfortunately you have to queue for a very long time at this ride. Movie Park Germany now has the immersive tunnel The Lost Temple and the roller coaster Star Trek Operation Enterprise in the same place, but I really wish they had taken another inspiration from the park on the Gold Coast.

Warner Bros. Movie World, you must have been a really good theme park once. In the early 90s you surprised everyone with your concept, but now there’s almost none of that magic left. You’re more like a classic theme park these days, but your roller coasters can hardly hide your lack of attractions and shows. To be honest, I really wonder how one is supposed to spend a whole day here. A question that, interestingly enough, you would never ask at your younger sister in Bottrop.

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Scenic Fun on the Scenic Railway

One of the smallest amusement parks, an enthusiast might encounter during his travels is the Luna Park Melbourne in St.Kilda. The historic theme park is sitting on a triangular spot of land with no space to expand anywhere. The amusement park heavily influenced by Luna Park on Coney Island in New York opened its gates in 1912. Its star attraction is the Scenic Railway, which runs along the outskirts of the park and gives it a beautiful aesthetics. Within the courtyard of the wooden coaster, all other attractions are placed.

When you enter the park through its beautiful yet creepy entrance portal, you directly encounter one of the park’s mayor attractions. The Luna Park Carousel was built in 1913 by Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters and features 68 horses and chariots. Each horse is unique and has a name.

Right next to it you can find a HUSS Enterprise, a Meisho built boat swing, as well as the Spider by the Eyerly Aircraft Company. This old-style flat ride has one of the creepiest decorations to be found on the eccentric designed by artist and children’s book author, Leigh Hobbs.

Past the park’s Ferris-Wheel, we quickly encounter a Power Surge by Zamperla. Although these rides are quite common on fair grounds in Australia and in the US, I’ve never encounter one of these attractions in person. I was surprised by its smooth and thrilling ride experience.

During our visit to Luna Park Melbourne, the park had hold two scare mazes. Extreme Phobia was located on the top level of the old Dodgems building, which nowadays is home to the Luna Palace room and Haunted Fairytales was located on the top floor of the Stardust room. Both haunted houses were upcharge and a rather expensive experience. My friend Aris went through Extreme Phobia yet did not found it particularly scary nor worth the money.

An attraction I would have wished to be at least a little bit scary was the traditional Ghost Train by the Pretzel Amusement Ride Company from 1934. The short ride in the small trains featured for the most part just dark corridors with static paintings, some black light effects and just a handful of animatronics. Given that the ride featured the longest line in the park, I was not at all impressed.

The novelty of this year was the small spinning coaster Speedy Beetle by SBF Visa, which just replaced the aging Silly Serpent family coaster. Surprisingly, it was the first spinning coaster of this type, I have come along. The small Figure-8 coaster can be found nearly everywhere around the globe and provides an excellent spinning ride for smaller guests.

The second big thrill ride of Luna Park Melbourne is the Kamikaze Pharaoh’s Curse by Fabbri. Unlike other Kamikaze rides by the company this one is much closer to the Original Sky Flyer by Vekoma and Mondial featuring just a comfy lap bar for the thrilling inverting ride. As good as this ride is, it looks like being in a terrible condition.

Something you cannot say about the Scenic Railway, which seems to be overall well kept. During my visit, it was the oldest operational roller coaster as Leap-the-Dips at Lakemont Park in Pennsylvania was currently in restoration. However, the ride is famous to be the oldest continuously operating roller coaster.

The ride on the Scenic Railway begins with a small S-Bend into the cable lift. After climbing the (for a coaster of that age surprisingly straight) lift, we pass a curve above the iconic entrance of Luna Park Melbourne. A large drop follows. After another scenic curve at lofty heights, we now descend close to the ground level and enter a camelback covered by a tunnel. With best views onto Port Phillip Bay, we take another turn. Shortly thereafter, the second round in the triangular layout of the ride starts. First, we take a large drop behind the station building of the Scenic Railway, before we take another S-Bend in order to continue our journey in the courtyard of the ride. Now we take a series of airtime hills and a tunnel while following the layout of the previously experienced track. While doing so, the train loses a lot of momentum and nearly crawls towards the station in the last curve.

The Scenic Railway is a historically significant roller coaster. Unfortunately, it is also the weakest scenic railway, I had the chance to try so far. It seems that the brakemen are using the brakes a bit too much and that the ride therefore becomes so gentle. Nevertheless, I am quite sure if you have a well experienced brakeman, you can have a blast of a time on the Scenic Railway.  It is a nice coaster with a fun layout and therefore worth to keep it running as long as possible. Just don’t miss it when you are visiting Melbourne.

Luna Park Melbourne is not a park I recommend visiting other for their iconic Scenic Railway. The park is expensive and there is a lack of attractions. Overall, it seems that the Luna Park Melbourne had its best years far behind. Everything is just a bit worn off and for a park of its size that does not give the best image you could have.

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