It’s the last day of 2017 which is a good moment to look back at the past year. What meant 2017 for me as a theme park enthusiast?! Which parks and roller coasters excited us? Which disappointed us? Which new parks did we explore? Let’s look back at what 2017 brought us.
2017 is of course the year this blog started! But our theme park season didn’t start there. The first park of the year I visited is also the last park I visited of the 2016 season. It’s the same park I started the 2017 season in April. Plopsaland De Panne is my home park and the one Belgian theme park that stays open until the first week of January. When they started the new season in April 2017 it also marked the opening of their new wooden roller coaster Heidi the Ride, only the second operational wooden roller coaster in Belgium. Heidi proved to be a fun ride and great addition to the park. We wrote an article about it which you can find over here.
The other Belgian parks got a visit as well. Bellewaerde had an extra reason to visit it, they opened Dawson Duel. A dueling alpine coaster built on supports because the lack of a hillside. We tested their new addition and even had an interview there about Dawson Duel and the upcoming plans of Bellewaerde.
But of course the theme park trips to other countries are the most memorable. The first one we did this year, in April, went to central Europe. We started with one of the best, probably the best, theme park of Europe: Phantasialand. When 2017 kicked in, Taron was still noted as my favorite European roller coaster. We are looking forward to the new roller coaster Phantasialand is building, no opening date is known yet but it seems 2018 will be too early. From Phantasialand we drove further into Germany to the east where we visited Freizeitpark Plohn. Plohn is a small but very charming park that is home to El Toro, a small but very powerful GCI wooden roller coaster. Since there weren’t really much people in the park that day we got to ride El Toro multiple times that day and it convinced us to be one of Europe’s best wooden roller coasters.
While we were in eastern-Germany we also visited Freizeitland Geiselwind. This park was the greatest disappointment of the year. Geiselwind is barely the name theme park worthy; it has the looks of a fairground except that most fairgrounds at least have a vibrant fairground atmosphere. There wasn’t any atmosphere to be found over there and the rides were nothing special. I already left after two or three hours because Geiselwind was just a waste of time and money.
On our journey to central Europe we couldn’t forget Belantis. I knew the park of its beautiful entry building but didn’t know much about the park besides that. Belantis was a nice surprise, it has its atmosphere but it kind of lacks some more rides in order to fill your day at the park. But the park I was most excited about followed the next day. Energylandia is the new shining star of the European theme park landscape. The Polish park quickly became known to theme park enthusiasts because it kept opening new roller coasters and announcing new ones. They are currently building on Hyperion which will be the highest mega coaster of Europe. And they recently announced they will add a wooden coaster and a launched water coaster!
Energylandia proved to be very different than western theme parks. It already has a great collection of rides and roller coasters and it’s hard to see where they will end. Unfortunately it rained all day during my visit but I still had a blast at the Polish park. And it was the first time I was in Poland which was exciting too. The trip ended in Prague, where I could add a credit I’ve missed out before in the vague Luna Park.
In June I went back to Germany, this time to visit the very charming Tripsdrill. While there was no new roller coaster to find there since my last visit, this park is so atmospheric and unique. Freizeitpark Lochmühle was also done to add the credits over there before we visited Taunus Wunderland. Taunus was highly anticipated by my friend who wanted to see their fairy tale forest. Great was his disappointment when he found out they broke down the fairy tale forest. Taunus is also home to the most painful roller coaster we rode in 2017. Rodeo Ride had very painful seats and if things couldn’t get worse, it rode four laps… Which the ride operator found very funny… We immediately understood why we didn’t saw any adults going on the ride.
Scandinavia has a lot of interesting stuff to offer. So we arranged a trip to Finland at the end of June. We visited the atmospheric city park Linnanmäki at Helsinki, got to ride Funparks only roller coaster which recently announced closing, visited Särkänniemi Amusement Park where we rode their new 2017 roller coaster Hype. Särkänniemi was a pleasant surprise with a Zamperla MotoCoaster that I found better than Vekoma’s version of it. They also have an Intamin suspended looping coaster which was pretty fun. On the other hand I also rode my first Volare coaster from Zamperla there and let’s say it came pretty close to the painful Taunus Rodeo Ride…
The pinnacle of the Finnish trip was our visit to PowerLand. We were given a backstage tour where we saw the backstage of Junker and Thunderbird and their big storage room. Powerland has a good collection of rides and even has two great coasters with Thunderbird, the first GCI wooden roller coaster in Europe, and Junker. That last one became of my favorite with a great launch and some unique elements. We finished our Finnish trip at Nokkakivi Park better known as the park created by a Finnish theme park enthusiast. Dreams can come true it seems.
In July we went to Parc Asterix which was really crowded. Nonetheless we got to ride their new roller coaster Pégase Express twice. We also made the mistake to ride their wooden roller coaster Tonnere de Zeus which has became really rough, almost to the point it is unrideable. Still better than Rodeo Ride of course. In September I decided to do a blitz visit to Kolmarden Djurpark in Sweden. We flew Friday afternoon, visited the park on Saturday and flew back on Sunday. Kolmarden was a nice park, mostly a zoo but of course my goal of this mini-trip was Wildfire. Despite the high expectations I had Wildfire still managed to amaze me. We rode it ten times that day and afterwards it was clear for me Taron was kicked out of his position as number one in Europe.
With autumn, the number of visits began to decline. I still was curious for Symbolica, the new dark ride of the Efteling. So went to the Netherlands to visit the Efteling. Symbolica was a bit of a disappointment, while it has his strong points here and there it didn’t amaze me that much and I found Droomvlucht and Fata Morgana more worthwhile to do when visiting the Efteling. We also visited another Dutch theme park, Drievliet. Drievliet was a bit smaller than imagined but still pretty fun. Their Formule X coaster is a good coaster for the park and their weird spinning coaster Twistrix managed to get laughs out of us. It’s a fun park for the locals to go to I can imagine.
I closed down 2017 in the same park where it started, my home park Plopsaland De Panne. 2017 was good year for me personally. I discovered some great new parks like Freizeitpark Plohn, Energylandia, Särkänniemi and PowerLand. Some great new roller coasters were ridden this year. El Toro, Junker and Wildfire are easily the best three new roller coasters I did from the 53 new roller coasters I got to ride this year. And 2018 will be another exciting year. But more of that to come…