The players Carol (41, British) dangerously Disney obsessed. Roland (36, German) puts up with me somehow. I wrote a WDW trip report called Mickey & US if you missed it you might have trouble with some of the references! 27 August 2002 PART TWO Theres an awning covering the long path up to the entrance a testament to German weather and we joined the throngs of very orderly smiling people milling down it. We also joined everyone at peering over to the right. That was where the parks newest attraction was the Silver Star. Now I used to like roller coasters but I'm now not even all that happy with the little ones. This was not a little one. It was a great big humungous put-the-fear-ofdeath-in-you one. We could hear some people screaming but I think most people were too s*** scared to scream. Roland and I were in full agreement on this no way! We got to the cash desk and coughed up 24 Euros each (its not quite 1:1 with $$ but its close enough) and 3 Euros for parking. On to the gates and the CM (I know theyre not but I'm going to call them that anyway) took our tickets and we were in! First thing on the plan was to look at the Berlin Wall and then the Deutsche Allee its a collection of different German buildings with a bit of food and a lot of shops! Only we completely forgot about the plan. We were SO happy to be there, we just dashed up the Allee, taking photos left right and centre. We completely forgot about the Wall We slowed down just a bit at the end as I had to change the film, then we remembered the plan and got it out whoops! Were flexible, we changed it; save the shops and the Wall for later. Otherwise we were back on plan do the park anti-clockwise, concentrating on the rides we were interested in and then round again to see what wed missed. So on to Italy it was. The first thing we saw was the Horror Shop the windows were lined with skulls so it was a bit hard to miss. I wanted to get one for our beloved nephew, Kai (he's 13 and just getting into heavy metal) but sadly I forgot to go back later. (We were looking for food the next time we were in Italy not even skulls can detract me from food). The first attraction we noticed froze our blood in a way no skull ever could; Karneval in Venedig. Oh no animatronic birds singing agh!!! Being as we HATED the New Management Tiki Birds, (no offence to its fans) we clutched each other for safety and manoeuvred ourselves away from it. Phew, a narrow escape. But we did feel brave enough to try Ghost Castle; that déjà vu feeling crept up on us again. See what you think - You walk through the doorway, past macabre artefacts, into a `lift´. When the lift `moves´, the portraits on the walls extend to reveal and then you go out and get into little vehicles that take you round a castle where ghosts and ghouls sing and dance theres even a mirror that shows you youve picked up unexpected company. Sound familiar to you? Well take your memories of the Haunted Mansion and turn up the gruesome factor considerably! The legs revealed under the portraits included a man wearing stockings and suspenders (weird!) but the others were just yuck! The crowd of teenage boys jeered. And they jeered all the way down to the `doombuggies´ but after that things got progressively quieter, till not a sound was heard from them Lets just say if I ever decide to write a horror book, the Europa Park will feature in the acknowledgements. Sadism abounded, torture was rife I learnt a lot. Not a bad little ride at all! We were hungry then (I know we shouldnt have been but we were, like I said ) but we could only see sweet stuff, not what we needed at all. Then I remembered the bananas I'd brought for the return journey. The ones I'd forgotten to leave in the car oh good! The next show in Italy EP has a lot of shows wasnt for ages so we decided wed do it later. You may see a pattern forming here. We wandered into France next, eating whilst we walked so as not to lose any precious seconds of park time. Some things are the same whichever park youre in. The first thing we saw was the `golf ball´. Its based on Epcots but the constructions as far as it goes. Did you know that the one in Epcot is made of a unique material that deflects dirt? I didnt but Nancy (my oracle!) did. What wed both like to know is, how come its unique? Why cant they make houses, furniture, etc in it? Wed buy it!!! The Europa Park golf ball looks great on postcards and from a distance but oh boy, when you get close up It just aint Epcot! I admit it, the underlying theme to our whole day was comparisons with Disney (we just couldnt help ourselves) and on the whole, Disney won by a mile. EP didnt have the magic or the polish and the animatronics werent in Disneys league but then EP doesnt have Disneys resources. But what it had, it used as well as it could and there were some things where it actually beat Disney at its own game. The landscaping was fantastic and a lot of thought had been put into the little things, things that didnt cost much but made all the difference. France was one of these things for us. Now dont get me wrong, we thought Epcots France was ok but whereas Germany (Bavaria!) and the UK were easily recognisable for us, we didnt feel that way about France. Have you ever been there (the real place, not Epcot)? We have and Disneys felt wrong EP showed us why. Their France was just that little bit dilapidated, just that little bit run-down. The only thing missing was the smell of garlic, coffee and cigarettes that I always seem to smell when I'm there, though they did manage the tantalising smell of pasties the bakery was wonderful. We liked France! Having scrutinised the ball we walked past it. The ride inside sounded just like Space Mountain from the description and were not big fans. Then we walked past the Silver Star queue which was full of teenagers with `course I'm not scared´ written all over their defiant little faces. Oh yeah, right! Feeling old but blissfully safe on solid ground we walked into `Filmerlebniswelt´ and discovered a bit of Disney/MGM Studios had also got caught up in the mix. Mind you, we didnt realise it was meant to be like a backlot until we were out again it just felt a bit olde worlde. I like the bookshop best with the piles of books in the window and sinister figures inside (rejects from Ghost Castle?) but the other façades were just as good. The Bistro wasnt a façade, it was a proper café, but it fitted in perfectly. I wanted to take a picture but this whopping great family decided they would ignore all the benches scattered around (another point to EP there were loads of benches) and STAND in front of the bistro to eat their picnic. I waited a while and then went off to find Roland; try again next time. Roland was looking a bit down in the mouth. Lured by the name Naked Nadines hed gone to investigate. It turned out to be a crepes shop. We never did work that one out but Roland got over the disappointment eventually. There was a lot of France we werent interested in the Mercedes-Benz hall and all the other car paraphernalia wasnt for us, neither was the Old 99, a kiddie train that the littlies obviously loved. But we didnt want to miss out on Universe of Energy. Yep, thats right, U of E featuring dinosaurs! Well what can I say? Firstly, it wasnt Epcot. Secondly, we loved it! The four (one more than Epcot but about a quarter the size) film screens didnt show Ellen (no great loss, once was ok but enough) or Jamie Lee Curtis (now that is a shame) and they all showed the same film but a very nice film it was too, featuring the four elements and a lovely piece of specially created atmospheric music. That was the serious bit, now onto the giggles, and giggle we did, all the way round. The dinos were SO cheesy but just adorable! There was T-Rex roaring down at you and various others protecting their young, looking menacing or spitting water at you. And that was my favourite bit. No, it wasnt that I enjoyed getting wet, it was the fact that in order to spit at you, the dinos obviously needed water. `No problem, well pipe it to them. Oh dear, you can see the pipes everywhere, wed better paint them prehistoric colours´. Or maybe I'm wrong, maybe the dinos were more advanced than we thought and really did have plumbing in their jungles. I can feel a whole new extinction theory forming, one featuring exploding water pipes We got confused a bit when we came out of UofE we lost the rest of France. What looked fairly straightforward on the map wasnt. But never mind, we were in Switzerland now! To be continued .