The first day our our visit started with a press conference in the Berlin Ballroom, where Michael Mack (managing director) and Jakob Wahl (communications director) gave an introduction to Voletarium. Chris Lange (creative director) and Patrick Marxx (technical director) then joined the panel to offer more insight into the development of the attraction.
The inauguration followed, with an unveiling of the entrance, a performance and the ribbon cutting.
We were then among the first to enter the impressive building, inspired by the architecture of Europe's city halls and museums.
The new attraction comprises two gigantic 425m² dome-shaped screens, in front of which are seven suspended gondolas, with synchronised movement and special effects including wind, water and scent.
The actual ride is very much like Soarin' which is found at several of Disney's parks, both the flying theatre and the film itself which includes a couple of very similar scenes. This is no bad thing of course as the former attraction is excellent, so it's essentially a European equivalent.
Filming took place at many countries around Europe including Germany, France, Spain, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and The Netherlands (but sadly none in the UK) with the video captured in glorious 8K quality.
However, the pre-ride experience here is far superior, really outstanding, with a series of spectacular rooms and corridors, themed to the very highest standards, a world class effort that stands up to the best of the best, with similarities to Universal's Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
We were particularly impressed with the superb attention to detail and pleased to see that guests queuing will be kept entertained throughout, by a flying robot, crackling fire, talking owls, and a workshop brought to life with CGI animation and the Pepper's ghost illusion.
Construction started in September last year, but the idea came about way back in 2007. It's been a massive project for the park, working with Brogent for the ride system, MackMedia to create the video, a 60-piece orchestra for the music and securing Eurowings as a sponsor.
Voletarium is the first attraction at Europa-Park with a timed ticket system, like Disney’s Fastpass, using tickets to allow guests to come back and ride later in the day rather than queue, and it is free service too.
The rest of our time was spent exploring the 18 themed lands at Europa-Park, a sprawling theme park with over 100 rides and attractions, including 13 roller coasters. It's one of most beautiful, charming and immersive parks we have ever visited, with a wonderful atmosphere, friendly staff and a wide variety of things to see and do.
On the first day we had Meike as our guide, giving us a fantastic behind the scenes tour and sampled all the highlights of the park. The following day we returned to enjoy everything else, and although there is simply too much to talk about, here are some of our favourites...
The water coaster Poseidon is a fantastic combination of roller coaster and water ride, and it is impressively themed.
We had a fantastic front row ride on Silver Star, an excellent hyper coaster with loads of airtime, and an intense second half.
Euro-Mir is a totally bonkers spinning coaster, we loved the music. Both this and Eurosat, an indoor space themed coaster, have unusual spiral lifts.
What a wild ride! Wodan is a brilliant wooden coaster, with sharp dives and lots of interaction with other rides, this really impressed us.
Blue Fire was one of our favourite rides, this launch coaster goes from 0 to 62 mph in 2.5 seconds.
ARTHUR is an award-winning attraction, a hybrid roller coaster and dark ride, with a unique ride system.
Two of the park's family coasters are particularly good fun, Pegasus and Alpenexpress, plus both feature a Coasterality virtual reality option. We tried them with and without the VR add-on, and although we preferred the standard rides it's a very good version of this technology.
Swiss Bob Run and Matterhorn Blitz are good coasters too, and the indoor attractions include Pirates in Batavia (like Pirates of the Caribbean), the Universe of Energy (like Ellen's Energy Adventure) and Ghost Castle (like the Haunted Mansion).
An absolute must for lunch or dinner is the FoodLoop restaurant, stop for a drink at the Magellan Lounge and try to catch Ed's Party Parade.
It's a large theme park, so fortunately there are plenty options for getting around, including the Panorama Train, EP Express and Monorail. To fully appreciate the size and beauty of the park, Euro-Tower offers impressive views.
There are so many more rides, attractions and shows to experience as you travel around the themed lands inspired by the countries of Europe, offering something for everyone.
The park is located close the borders with France and Switzerland. Visitors from the UK can fly to Baden-Baden, Stuttgart, Basel, Strasbourg, Frankfurt or Zurich with transfers available.
We would thoroughly recommend a visit to Europa-Park but don't try to cram it all in one day, there is so much to enjoy that you won't want to leave!
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