Home Active Theme Park Heaven – Europe’s biggest thrills

Theme Park Heaven – Europe’s biggest thrills

by Ryan 11th October 2017

The feeling of anticipation as you slowly click and clank your way up the steep ascent of a rollercoaster, the thrill of whipping through the air in a flurry of cheers and screams, and the endorphin rush as you crash through G forces and twist through stomach-churning loops. If, like us, you’re a white knuckle explorer with a taste for all things gravity-defying, you’ll need to put these adrenaline-infused experiences on your to-do list.

Ferrari Land (PortAventura, Salou, Spain)
If you’re a lover of speed and impressive technology then this 70,000m2 addition to PortAventura is not one to be missed. Not only does it have 11 new rides but it also offers the chance to discover the legends behind Ferrari and its creator. Feel like a genuine F1 racer and take the wheel of, you guessed it, a Ferrari at an authentic F1 simulator. Then after a virtual warm up make your way to Red Force – the fastest and largest rollercoaster in all of Europe – reaching an eye watering 112mph in just 5 seconds whilst vertically climbing a 367 foot tower! How’s that to get the blood pumping?

Ikaros Drop Tower (Grona Lund, Stockholm, Sweden)
Inspired by the Greek myth of Icarus, a man who flew too close to the sun and plummeted to earth, this 312 foot drop tower is not for the fainthearted. If falling at 56mph under 3.5 G-force was not enough, as you approach the top of the tower your carriage is kindly tilted 90 degrees meaning you’re staring straight to the ground below before plunging downwards. Johan Tidstrand, the majority owner of Gröna Lund, when talking about Ikaros said “I have pretty much experienced all that there is in an amusement park, so I can honestly say that this is one of the most terrifying drop towers in the world”.

Star Trek: Operation Enterprise (Movie Park Germany, Bottrop-Kirchhellen, Germany)
Always wanted to be part of the Starfleet? Movie Park gives you the chance to get “trained” for your first mission as a cadet before being attacked by the Borg. Marvel at a holodeck, transporter rooms and replica of the USS Enterprise bridge before saddling up in this intergalactic triple launch rollercoaster. You may want to hang tight as you enter warp-speed and travel through plenty of inversions, including Europe’s only twisted half-pipe 130 feet in the air. The most terrifying part though is travelling backwards through the launch pad building you were just catapulted out of. It’s a ride, Jim, but not as we know it.

Lech Coaster (Legendia Amusement Park, Silesia, Poland)
If space-age Star Trek rides aren’t you’re thing, how about travelling back in time to ride the Medieval themed Lech coaster, named after the legendary first King of Poland “Lech”. Legendia is home to the highest and longest rollercoaster in all of Central and Eastern Europe with nearly 1km of track. The entire track is exquisitely designed with loops, reverse sidewinders and plenty of corkscrews as you travel around and through the central castle.

Ghostbusters 5D dark ride (Heide Park, Soltau, Germany)
Whilst this may not be the most extreme new rollercoaster, Heide’s Ghostbusters certainly has the scare factor, especially if you’re not a fan of ghosts. Hop into the ECTO-1 patrol car and take a journey through a haunted warehouse where you’ll need to fight off ghouls galore with your trusty laser proton guns and ghost traps. The best part of this ride is that not only is the whole thing in 3D, meaning spirits will emerge from walls and rush towards you, but they’ve added a whole new set of sensory special effects. Sometimes you’ll only hear or feel the ghosts when they suddenly appear, so make sure you’ve got your wits about you.

Shaman (Gardaland, Lake Garda, Italy)
Why not take the 5D experience one step further with a full virtual reality rollercoaster which will take you on a journey into the world of the Native American ancestral spirits. Take flight on the back of a giant eagle as you freefall and perform acrobatics to escape evil spectres and head towards the sacred burial ground. Whilst VR rollercoasters have been around since late 2015, Gardaland’s Shaman is an innovative project that has seen the beloved Russian Mountains coaster transformed into a VR experience. This is definitely one for adrenaline lovers and riders will be enthralled with steep drops, a double loop-the-loop, double tailspin and rapid final helix, all whilst being immersed with stunning visuals and charming shamanic music.

Dawson Duel (Bellewaerde, Ieper, Belgium)
Ever wanted to race a friend or loved one on a coaster? Well now’s your chance with Europe’s first ever duelling alpine rollercoaster at Bellewaerde. The ride is themed around the world’s hardest dog sled challenge, Yukon Quest, with Dawson city being the half-way point of this race. Riders will jump on a sled and race their opponents along parallel tracks, descending 82 feet through the trees. There are plenty of helices and turns where the brave can take the edge on their rival and why not make it interesting and wager that the loser buys candyfloss and ice cream for the rest of the day.

SW8 Coaster (Alton Towers, Staffordshire, United Kingdom)
Last not but certainly not least is Alton Towers’ SW8 coaster, which stands for “secret weapon 8”. Whilst this isn’t due to open till early 2018 it’s definitely worth a mention given it has the famous SW brand. You may remember some of the previous SW rollercoasters like Nemesis, Oblivion, Air, Th13teen and The Smiler – certainly not rides found in Cbeebies Land – so there’s a lot of hype around what SW8 will offer. There’s plenty of speculation however one thing’s certain, it’s going to be wooden and is expected to break current world records for wood rollercoasters. It’s also rumoured to have a magnetic lift hill which will blast you up from the start station which just sounds awesome!

Want a ticket to ride? No problem, if you fancy giving some of these a blast we’ve got parcs near most of Europe’s best theme parks.

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