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 8 I admit it, I have a problem with German `castles´. As a Brit, the word castle conjures up something along the lines of Edinburgh Castle a dark foreboding fortress, full of the ghosts of knights of old. Most German castles arent like that. They are some great ones around theres the wonderful Neuschwanstein and the Rhines lined with impressive ruins but on the whole, German `castles´ are just large residences. Europa Parks castle is one of those but at least its genuine! The whole park is built in a real castles grounds and the castle itself is now a restaurant Cindys it aint but judging by the menu, the foods a touch more gourmet. The area round the castle was one of our favourite bits. Wed been impressed by the floral displays and landscaping all day but the Zaubergarten (Magical Garden) was just lovely. All sorts of plants and flowers were arranged around little pathways, resulting in a riot of colour. Each pot or plot had a large sign in it with info on the plants and tips for anyone interested. We particularly liked a large wheelbarrow with an imaginative display of herbs I just wish I'd taken more time to find out which one was the one they said was 40 times sweeter than sugar but contained no calories. Didnt seem important on my birthday And then we were back at the beginning! Wed done our full circle, seen almost everything we'd wanted to (if you dont count the shows) and still had two and a half hours to go great! Time for a little meandering now. Back into Germany first. We thought wed walk down one side, ride the monorail round in a circle and then do the other side. So we did! The first shop was full of specialities from the Black Forest (especially the ham), not really what we were interested in so we just glanced through the door. The next shop was just like being in Downtown Disney merchandising, merchandising, merchandising. I found a sweatshirt I liked but it wasnt long enough (I like certain bits of me to be completely concealed) and when I saw the price I was quite pleased I didnt like it. 50 Euros is a lot of money to pay for a sweatshirt when the mouse isnt even Mickey! Which brings me round to the mouse in the title (it only took me till part 8!). EPs mascot is also a mouse I cant think whos brilliant idea that was as I'm sure that part of the reason why hes the ugliest mouse on the planet was that theyre trying to keep him from looking anything like Mickey. Were talking grey fur, buck teeth and over large ears. And no dress style at all. Anyone as old as me might remember Topo Gigigio (or then again, they might not!). If you do remember him, EPs mouse was his ugly younger brother. EP mouse's friends were a jumbo and a cockerel slightly more attractive but still not very appealing. The characters greets had non-existent queues and none of them needed a minder CM. But we didnt catch the piece de resistance until we came out of the shops EP mouse's girlfriend. She was even uglier than him! (I'm sorry if this sounds b****y but she WAS!). She was him in a frock but her neck was massive Frankenstein eat your heart out! I swear it was as wide as her shoulders. People were gawping at her I think youd have to be a very thick-skinned CM to wear that costume. Monorail next. Getting up the steps was interesting: they were covered in bandsmen looking bored. Strange. If youve read M & US no, I didnt throw a strop. No point. Although the driver had a whole carriage to himself, nobody was allowed in there. Shame. The carriages were very small, no standing room at all. The funniest thing was that when they stopped, everyone on the platform would rush to get in the carriages and then stare in disbelief when they were full. There were never any CMs on the platforms and we felt very sorry for the driver as he had to get out at every station and look to make sure everyone was in safely before he could close the doors and set off. But there was always someone rushing along the platform so he would wait till they got on, then someone else would come You get the picture. Not an easy job! We had a nice view from the monorail, not as nice as the one from the Chocoland Express, but the monorail covered more ground. We were surprised how close to the hotel rooms we went. There was a man on a balcony smoking a cigarette we could have shaken hands, we were so close. I definitely wouldnt want to stay on that side of the hotels. I tried peering through the curtains but to no avail so I still dont know what the rooms look like. When we got off the monorail the bandsmen had disappeared but the mice were on a pedestal with a TV camera. We found the bandsmen they were round the corner, blocking the entrance to Italy. They now looked even more bored and most were chain smoking. Very strange. There was two rides in Germany and France I still wanted to do (note the lack of Roland in there), the Elves Ride and the Marionettes Boat Ride: we found the latter first. Roland breathed a huge sigh of relief I changed my mind. It sounded on paper (or computer screen) just like Small World but it wasn't. The boats went past large glass cabinets with clowns and pierrots and things it looked very cheesy. Unfortunately for Roland, his luck didnt hold for the Elves Ride but he bore it manfully. This one had elves and fairies sitting in trees and in clumps of grass. The best thing was that theyd taped littlies giggling and then played it back as if it were the elves a brilliant idea! I defy anyone to ride and not join in! Wed got the munchies again now must have been all of an hour since wed last eaten something. Roland fancied waffles, so waffles it was! Except that I had a vanilla doughnut. I'm not a big doughnut fan but Nancy and I had been talking about them at length and it had put me in the mood for one. We ignored the exorbitant cost (worse than the water!), it was my birthday There was just one snag the doughnuts had a brown stripe across them. Could it be that theyd been dredged with the dreaded cinnamon? (Guess what I dont like) That was a good question so we asked it. Remember how I said EP was close to France? Lot of French people working there. And the ones in the waffle stand didnt speak German!!! I think thats silly, putting only non-German speakers in a retail unit, in a theme park in Germany. Luckily the chef understood the word cinnamon and could say the word cocoa. So I got my doughnut. We walked back through France, taking lots of photos as we went. I tried twice more to get a picture of the bistro. More people standing drinking outside the first time (!) but success the second time. Good job too, it was my last chance! Then we walked back round the back way to Switzerland I knew where to hold my breathe this time! The line for the Bobsleigh was 25 mins oh goody! We did it again, it only took 15 mins and it was even better second time round! We walked round the outside of Poseidon in Greece next. You can walk next to large parts of the track, giving you some great views of people getting drenched. And theres an area in the middle where you can stand called Poseidons Shower it catches the splashes from both sides so you get absolutely soaked to the skin if you stand there. Surprisingly enough, all the drowned rats were teenagers. Must be something in the hormones. It was beginning to get dark now and time was moving on. We decided wed do Austria and then probably call it a day. There were two rides in Austria we hadnt done the Tyrolean White Water Ride and the Alpine Express/BTM. Roland surprised me (read shocked here!) by seriously considering the water ride. But he decided yes, you really did get wet. I dont know why he thought you wouldnt with a name like that The train queue was 15 mins but we were at the front in 10. Just in time to witness a near punch up. I'll try and explain why. The main problem was that the train didnt start and stop in the same places and it certainly didnt stop with the seats parallel to the queues. So when the train before ours stopped, the large man in the next queue found himself without a carriage to step into. He was just getting nasty with the two girls he reckoned had pinched his seat when the CM caught what was happening and sent the train on its merry way. Phew, crisis avoided! The man now had a very determined look on his face so I prayed he wasnt going to try throwing me out of his way in order to get a seat. But the train stopped perfectly this time and we all got on thank heavens for that! The seats were a lot smaller than BTM they were miniscule! If we didnt breathe, Roland and I just about squished into one seat and were not that big! But being squished turned out to be perfect the train whizzed twice round the track, up and down, in and out of the diamond mines it hurtled and I loved it! What I dont like about BTM is being thrown about and there was none of that with this train, there wasnt room I'd have gone on again if Roland had agreed but he was getting tired now so home it was. We had one last treat before we left we saw the best characters I've ever seen anywhere, any time. They were standing under a tree, one on stilts, two on foot. They looked just like theyd stepped out of the pages of Lord of the Rings sorry Mickey, I think I've lost my heart to the trolls! By the time we walked through the gate it was twenty past seven and wed been in the park for nine and a half hours. Wed done a lot, but there was still a lot to be done and quite a bit to redo. As we looked up at the screamers on the Silver Star and shook our heads again in disbelief, we made a unanimous decision. Were going back next spring!