May 30, 2017

A disapointment 21 years in the making

I know, I have been very silent the last weeks and it´s very likely that I end up failing the 52 game challenge, however I don´t care about that. The reason for all this is more or less my summer vacation, a crazy 2 week trip through Italy and Southern Germany with a Theme Park visit on (almost) every day. Yes, I know, this sounds bonkers, and it probably is, but I´m very excited about that. Plus it gives me a reson to finaly write a bit about Theme Parks. Because I like them and it´s my Blog and I can make up rules and content how I whant. And to kick things off I wanted to talk a bit about the lesser known Walygator Parc in France. Walygator isn´t the original name of this Park, since it´s opening in 1989 it had a total of 4 different names and at least as many owners, and to be honest it is a bit sad to see this because you can see and feel that at least some love and care went and still goes into it, however the current owner is optimistic to improve the Parks Image and Visitor Numbers. I first visited this place back in 1996 when it operated under the name "Walibi Schtroumpf", at this point in time it was owned by the Belgian Walibi Group and it had a Smurfs Theming through most of it (Schtroumpf is the French word for Smurfs). Back in 1998 almost everything related to the Smurfs was removed (you can still find a few hint´s in various places though) and in 2006 / 2007 the back then new owner renovated and re-themed a lot in the Park and gave it the current name Walygator and Wally as a mascot. Since 2016 it is owned by the Spanish Aspro Parks Group wich mostly operates Water Parks. Walygator is home to 4 Roller Coasters, 3 Water based Rides and a roughly 40 other Attractions and Shows and they have something for all ages and sizes. Walygator has various themed areas, however you can get the feeling that they don´t take that too serious, I.e. they have a very lovely Dino-Themed area, however one of the older Flatrides already had a Dino Theming and for whatever reason they never moved it to the Dino Area. At least for me that isn´t much of an issue though, but it would be nice to have already themed up rides in the proper sections of the Park.

Thrillseeker can take a ride on the Inverted Coaster "The Monster", a clone of Cedar Point´s Raptor minus the mid-course brake run, the wooden coaster "L´Anaconda" can be ridden by the entire family, "Comet", a Vekoma Looping / Corkscrew Coaster, is blast from the past, especially since it´s old trains became a very rare sight in the last couple of years and the small ones can get their first Roller Coaster experience on "Family Coaster", one of many Whacky Worms around the world, however this one got a lovely Crocodile Themed Train instead of the usual Worm. The Log Flume isn´t anything special, it has one drop, but it get´s you decently wet, however the "Dino Raft" is probably my favourite River Rapids Ride period. Not only is it well themed around the course, but it also get´s water on you no matter what and having the Jurassic Park Main Theme all around the Dino Area almost makes it feel as if it where a official Jurassic Park Ride, this is how you do a good Rafting! The last Water based ride is a Mack Tow-Boat ride similar in Concept to Disney´s "It´s a small World" or Efteling´s "Carnaval Festival", luckily with much less annoying music, however it end´s up being much less memorable too. Sadly this is currently the only thing that truly is a theme ride, there are no dark rides what so ever, the "Terror House" is a overall disapointing walkthrough that tries to shock you with a few loud-ish noises and shaking Animatronics. 

Other than those larger Attractions you can find a lot of smaller rides. Most of them are the usual suspects like a swinging ship or various carousels, the "Space Shooter" aka "Dark Tower" (I really don´t know what it´s current official name is) isn´t anything special either, but the sound of air getting compressed to shoot you into the air on these Space Shot Towers still manages to send a shiver down my spine. The Zamperla Air Race "G-Lock" is worth a mention though. It was my first Air Race and I love it, the amount of Hangtime you get on this thing is bonkers and the speed it can spin you around isn´t anything for the faint of heart either. Great ride, love it. Most of the Park is really clean and well maintained, however in some places you can see that a bit of work is required to bring everything back on the level of everything else, however you can see that there is some ongoing work and my guess is that they are trying to (re) open one thing or another for the 2018 season. Most of the staff is on the younger side, however everyone was very nice, motivated and despite that you often hear that the french won´t speak anything other than french almost all of them where able to speak at leas english, if not german as a 3rd language as well. Don´t expect them to speak a perfect or fluent english / german, but I appreciate the effort none the less.

Sadly, not everything at Walygator is as good as it should be or as you would expect. Some stuff is minor, I.e. it wouldn´t hurt if they upgraded their Vekoma Looper "Comet" with newer and more comfortable trains, however considering the age and the type of coaster we are talking about it is still one of the smoother and better maintained ones out there and I like the look of these old school trains anyway. So yeah, a train upgrade on this ride is more a nice-to-have thing than a much needed thing. Considering the overall good theming of the Park they really need to do something with their incredible Inverter "The Monster", as of now it just sits there on little more than an empty field, the station doesn´t even have a roof on it´s simple steel construction and even the white paintjob with a bit of a light pink on the tracks feels a bit out of place. Other than this "L´Anaconda" is in desperate need of some work, mainly a re-tracking. Considering it´s fairly slow speed through most of the track it is fairly shaky experience. It doesn´t beat you senseless like Bandit at Movie Park Germany, but it could be much smoother none the less. Operations and loading times on both "L´Anaconda" and "The Monster" where a desaster on the day of my visit, however this was most likely because there weren´t that many visitors in the Park (I´m not joking here when I say that there where 2.500 Visitors there tops) and on those 2 rides they tried to send out only trains that where (almost) full and I would bet that on days with more guests these Operations would be much faster. Other than this more or less needed work on the Roller Coasters they really should try to get a decent Dark Ride and maybe another Coaster aimed at the entire Family, something like a Vekoma Junior Coaster would do it and similar to "The Monster" I wouldn´t mind if it where a used ride from a different Park.

You might think now: "Well, this doesn´t sound too bad to me, why was it a Disapointment 21 years in the making then?". Good Question. You see, back in 1996 I didn´t whant to ride "L´Anaconda" because as a kid I didn´t trust the wooden construction and it ended up being the only Roller Coaster in my life that I didn´t ride the first time I had the chance. Over the years it became this one ride I that seemed too scary for me and for some crazy reason I expected it to be good. Now imagine coming back to it 21 years later, now as an adult, standing in front of the 36m high wooden structure realising that the trains are actually a lot slower than you remembered. In front of the qeue line is a giant, artificial tree with a larger than life Anaconda in, the qeue itself goes through a small forest-ish area (wich actualy is a really nice touch for a wooden coaster and is very great on hotter days) eventually leading to the wooden station building. The Trains are comfortable enough, a little bit more legroom in the rear of a car than in the front, however the moment you get a punch from the ride while moving over the transfer track for the service area on your way to the lifthill you get the slight suspicioun that something might be wrong here. The first drop is smooth enough and in the back of the train even fairly decent, however at the bottom of the drop the entire thing starts shaking and bouncing to a level that it stops being fun. The slow speed doesn´t help much either and Air Time is nothing more than a rumor on this thing. So yeah, I was disapointed by a coeaster that probably would have been much more memorable for me 21 years ago, but most likely wasn´t much better back then anyway.

If you happen to be in the Area of Trier / Luxemburg / Metz I can really recommend visiting the Walygator Parc, it isn´t nearly as bad as it´s Image and it really deserves more visitors. Check the Parks Website though because for most of the season it is currently only open at weekends.

Official Park Website:
For more pictures of this and other Parks visit my Flickr Account: