Sven: It’s been a week now, but 2018 is over. The year will definitely be remembered as a wonderful theme park year for Europe. New Intamin & B&M coasters, a new theme park, new coasters for the UK and many other coasters. But how do we rank Europe’s novelties of the previous year? Here’s our top 15!
15) Parc Spirou
On the bottom of the list, we have Europe’s newest theme park. Parc Spirou is situated in the south of France and is themed by French/Belgian comic characters. Not the super hero kind, but the classic European kind. Overall, the feedback was mixed: lack of soul and shade were the main issues. Plus the number of rides isn’t very impressive at the moment. It doesn’t help that the three coasters come straight from the Zierer catalogue. Nothing custom and eventually the planned Zierer Tower coaster didn’t make it into the final plans. Luckily, they listened to the feedback and they have a lot of new rides in store for next year including the first copy of Wilde Hilde at Schwaben Park! At least that way, they have a more unique coaster to offer.
14) Wildlands Emmen – Tweestryd
Not one but two coasters were added to Wildlands Emmen, a zoo theme park in the north of the Netherlands. This dueling Family Boomerang coaster interacts nicely with each other. Both sides are perfect family fun. That’s why we could not exclude this double ride! The park itself struggles however with an identity crisis and investors are doubting if they made the right choice. The coaster also didn’t help unfortunately. So I would say, ride as soon as you can…
13) Le PAL -Yukon Quad
An underdog coaster of the list is Yukon Quad. This ride didn’t get that many attention but is a nice addition for the local park in France. The motorbike coaster by Intamin is almost identical of the existing one in Djurs Sommerland. Yet, the fact that this park invested in a coaster by the Swiss builder should not be ignored. They now have a decent family line-up also including a spicy Mack Spinning coaster Twist.
12) OK Corral – Pioneer
You may have not heard about this one either and basically it’s a another Force coaster by Zierer. Still, it’s all about the trains regarding this ride. The first part is Motorbike style while the back part is standard. The design is fun and original. A clever way of a small park to invest in a new coaster while offering something unique.
11) Legoland Billund – Flying Eagle
The other Zierer Force coaster of the list can be found in Legoland Billund. Den Flyvende Ørn, the Danish name, was designed by Dutch fan Romesh Popelier during an internship at Zierer. He got to make a dream come true by putting his own design into an existing park, as can be read on the Dutch news site Looopings . Compared to the others, it stands out as being a really fun coaster for the whole family. Job well done!
10) Walibi Belgium – Tiki-Waka & Exotic World
Tiki-Waka got mixed reviews and let’s be honest, it had more potential. It is the highest coaster of its type and yet it feels the weakest compared to the others. It does score good points on theming, with it’s Crash Bandicoot Racing style. Moreover, the ride is part of a brand new area for Walibi Belgium called Exotic World. It’s the first step in the retheming master plan of the whole park. An excellent decision and we can’t wait for the other major addition in this area: the 2021 Intamin Mega coaster!
9) Europa-Park – Eurosat Cancan Coaster, Madame Freudenreich & more
Europa-Park will probably make the list every year as they always keep investing in their park. This year they updated three different rides. Eurosat became Eurosat Cancan Coaster, Universum des Energie became Madame Freudenreich and Old Circus Parade 99 became Jim Knopf durch Lummerland. And those are just the rides! As usual they had a lot of new shows. 2018 was definitely the year of mass IP introduction. After Arthur and the Minimoys, they now also have Jim Knopf, Valerian, Paddington Bear and Otto’s Olifanten. Not sure if that’s a good evolution though. Still, we will probably remember something else even more about EP in 2018: the loss of the original Piraten von Batavia and Scandinavia in the fire.
8) Parc Saint-Paul – Wood Express
A lot of small parks in France invested in a new coaster this year but this one really stood out. Wood Express by Gravity Group is unseen for the local visitors of Parc Saint-Paul. You really have to see the park as a local playground, so putting a coaster like this is mind blowing for most guests of the park. Ranking it among the wooden coasters in Europe, it’s not that incredible for a theme park fan. Yet it does deliver airtime as it should, a really cute ride.
7) Legendia – Bazyliszek
It’s no secret that besides coasters, we also love dark rides. That’s why we couldn’t resist putting this ride in the list. This Polish park is stepping up its game by adding another amazing ride after Lech Coaster. Bazyliszek is a modern shooter dark ride on a low budget, but that does deliver the feel of a high quality shooter. It incorporated three types of shooting targets, including project mapping. The cooperation of Alterface, JoraVision and ETF Ride Systems delivers Benelux quality at an affordable price for a regional park. An exciting story, good immersion and the fun experience make it worth visiting the park! And Lech Coaster of course 😉
6) Jardin d’Acclimatation – Speed Rockets & more
The park with the biggest makeover this year, is definitely Jardin d’Acclimatation. They added several new rides including a coaster: Speed Rockets. So yes, Tiki-Waka wasn’t the only new Gerstlauer Bobsled coaster this year. This one is a lot more compact and because of that, it beats the Walibi one. It has an interesting layout with elements that deliver the experience you expect from this type of coaster. Also every coaster car received sound effects that are so cute! When in Paris, you HAVE to visit this park as an enthusiast. It changed from a more carnival type of park to a real theme park with a consistent feel and story.
5) Blackpool Pleasure Beach – Icon
We enter the top 5 with the first new coaster across the pond. 2018 was a great year for the UK, with both major theme parks opening a big new coaster. Our number 5 is thus Icon at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, the interesting new Mack launch coaster. We already went into detail about this ride in our Icon VS Wicker Man article!
4) Alton Towers – Wicker Man
So yeah spoiler, our number 4 is Wicker Man that only just beat Icon for the number 4 spot. It had been a long time since the UK opened a brand new wooden coaster and even though it isn’t the best among the European GCI’s, it definitely delivers an immersive experience. Not always on fire, but an excellent addition for Alton Towers.
3) Liseberg – Valkyria
And now the top 3, with bronze for Valkyria! Europe’s tallest and longest Dive Coaster! Liseberg has become a park you can’t ignore in the European theme park scene. After Helix, this is an excellent new addition that appeals to many fans. It has the type of theme you expect from a Scandinavian theme park, the color scheme is unique and wonderful… We’re very happy with this addition.
2) Energylandia – Hyperion & Speed
Number 2 is Europe’s tallest coaster with a chain-lift: Hyperion. Intamin won the duel with Vekoma to build this world class coaster. A new generation Intamin hyper with new trains feels fresh. It’s almost hard to compare with a similar coaster by B&M but it has elements that the other Swiss company probably couldn’t built. The turn element definitely ranks among my favorite elements on a coaster. The only downside? Well it’s another hyper that’s relatively far from my home country: Belgium. If you haven’t visited Energylandia yet, Hyperion is the reason to do so. And if that isn’t enough, there’s also another major coaster by Intamin: Speed Coaster. Also opened this year, although originally planned for 2017.
1) Toverland – Fenix, Avalon & Port Laguna
On top of the list is a theme park that also transformed this year. Not one but two brand new themed areas for the park that will blow you away, especially if you visited the park before. Port Laguna is the kind of entrance area that’s surprising, yet familiar. Wonderful colors and an eye-catcher you want to see. It’s no secret that they were inspired by Universal’s Islands of Adventure but many Europeans will never even see that park.
Even though that area is wonderful, the other new area is the main reason why the park is this year’s number one. Avalon is breathtaking for a park of this size. It has the magical Merlin’s Quest that makes fan beg the park to open a real dark ride. And then there’s Fenix… The second B&M coaster for the Netherlands and the first Wing Coaster in the area. Compared to the other ones in Europe, it’s the most forceful so if that’s what you like while riding, you’ll love this thing. The colors are wonderful and the music will make you drift away in the magical world of Merlin. It isn’t perfect as it lacks near miss elements, but there’s no denying that it’s one of the best coasters in Europe. (and I’m happy it’s so close!) Only thing left to say: go see for yourself!