2019 in review: The Best Bits

Good morrow, and welcome back to Walk in the Parks. 2019 has been a funny old year. We mentioned in our last post that we’ve struggled to find our blogging mojo. We were so inspired by our Walt Disney World trip when we launched this platform, and without one planned we’ve felt a little bit lost.

That said, we’re trying to put that to one side this year and get back to this little blog. We’re dipping our toes into watching Disney World vlogs again and might actually get round to finishing the videos from our Orlando trip in 2018.

We’re trying this new positive thinking thing this year and so although we know a trip back to Orlando and Disney World is not going to happen in 2020, we’re hopeful we can get back there in 2021/22. So all is not lost.

Anyway, last year we shared our theme park and blog goals for 2019 and our 2019 bucket list, so we thought we’d do something similar in 2020. We’re kicking things off with our highlights of 2019 and will be back with our plans for 2020 soon.

2019 was a good theme park year for us, we ventured to plenty of new European theme parks and had a right blast along the way. Here’s the best of what we got up to…

Where we visited

Thanks to multiple stag and hen do’s in 2019, as well as our European road trip, we visited quite a lot of new places last year. Here is where we ventured, as well as any blog posts we wrote about the trips:

  • The year kicked off with a long weekend to Disneyland Paris with our friends Chris and Sarah, courtesy of a Wowcher voucher. We visited both Disneyland Park (a repeat park for us both) and Walt Disney Studios and covered our highs and lows of Disneyland Paris on the blog.
  • Next we used our Merlin Annual Pass (one of the biggest wastes of money of the year) to take a few cheeky trips to Alton Towers. Our first one back in March was pretty good (the highs are here) but we took our teenage nephew back later in the year and decided it was time for us to take a break from Carl’s favourite UK park for a while.
  • In May Charlotte went to Barcelona on a hen do, and Carl spent the stag in Benidorm. We didn’t post any content from either but we both had a great time.
  • Mid-May we went back to Charlotte’s favourite park in the UK, Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Unfortunately we got so drunk in the casino the night before that Big One made us feel so poorly we had to go home after an hour in the park. Not our finest moment.
  • In July we visited our friends Chris and Sarah in Glasgow where we went to M&D’s – Scotland’s Theme Park. This day turned out to be much better than we expected although the park isn’t one we’ll be rushing back to. Read our highs and lows of M&Ds.
  • Next we visited Fantasy Island in Skegness for the first time. This wasn’t the best trip of the year, in fact we were both pretty disappointed. Read the highs and lows.
  • In September Carl visited Krakow for the first time on my brother’s stag do, we stayed closer to home for the hen by travelling to Shrewsbury.
  • Finally we headed on our European adventure during which time we visited Phantasialand, Toverland, Efteling and Bruges. We still have loads of content to share from this trip, but here are the highs and lows of our European trip.

So that’s all the things we did. Wow – no wonder we’re skint! But what did we enjoy the most? We chat about all the best bits below.

Best new park

Phantasialand

The beautiful theming at Phantasialand
Mexico at Phantasialand
Phantasialand theming

We both agree that of the five new parks I visited, and the six Carl went to, Phantasialand takes the crown. We haven’t even started writing up a lot of what we want to share from that trip yet, but suffice to say this place is absolutely stunning.

If you get the chance to go, you absolutely have to. The theming is exceptional, as magical as Disney in many aspects, and it has such a fantastic collection of attractions. We fell madly in love with this park and we’re so glad it’s one we managed to tick off our bucket list.

Best new rollercoaster

Taron at Phantasialand

Taron at Phantasialand
Taron at Phantasialand

Again another one we both agree on. We did quite a few new coasters this year (sadly we don’t cred count so I can’t say how many) but none of them came anywhere close to Taron. This unbelievable Intamin Blitz coaster jumped straight into the number one spot on our list and I can’t see it leaving anytime soon.

It’s thrilling, exhilarating and so much fun. We’re glad we shelled out to stay onsite at a Phantasialand hotel, because it meant we got to ride it multiple times. Front row is boss on this one. What a ride!

Best new dark ride

Charlotte

Ratatouille: The Adventure at Walt Disney Studios Park

Ratatouille the Adventure at Walt Disney Studios Park

We’re separating out for this one as we had differing opinions. For me, it was a really close choice between the wonderful Symbolica at Efteling and Ratatouille at Disneyland Paris but in the end, Ratatouille won out.

It’s such a magical ride and everything from the queue line to the smells had me agape in wonder. I think my favourite part was the cars dancing to the music – so beautiful. As this was my first ever experience of a trackless system, it really knocked me for six. Had I gone on Symbolica at Efteling (which has a similar system) first, I could well have chosen that. Both amazing rides and I’m so happy to have experienced such intricate new dark rides in 2019.

Carl

Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Paris

Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Park

What can I say about this? If you’ve read about my thoughts of the Orlando version, you know I think its amazing and one of my favourite rides at Walt Disney World. Well, this version totally blows the one in Orlando away. It’s quite simply a perfect ride.

Adventureland is much better themed than in Orlando and it looks a lot more Caribbean in my opinion. And that ship?…WOW! The station is stunning. The bit at the beginning when you float past the wonderful looking Captain Jack’s restaurant is a fantastic and magical way to start the voyage.

Of course a lot of the ride is pretty much the same as its counterpart at Magic Kingdom but because this is nearly 20 years younger it’s all much crisper. The feeling I get coming off of either version is one of wonder and awe. It’s just a much bigger feeling in Paris.

Biggest surprise

Charlotte

The dark rides at Efteling

Droomvlucht at Efteling

We went to Efteling fairly blind. Sure, we knew it fairytale themed and was considered to be as magical as a Disney park, but we didn’t know much about any of the rides.

Well, I’m glad we didn’t because it meant I could be absolutely blown away by the dark ride selection. As a massive fan of slow-moving dark rides, I can’t tell you how astounded I was by Symbolica, how taken away I got in Droomvlucht, how much fun I had on Carnaval Festival and how dumbstruck I was by the beauty of Fata Morgana and the indoor section of De Vliegende Hollander.

We started the day on the coasters and were pretty unimpressed with Efteling, but after an afternoon on all the dark rides, I could absolutely see where the wonder and magic of this park lies.

Carl

Carnaval Festival at Efteling

Carnaval Festival at Efteling

I didn’t expect to find a kids dark ride I’d like as much as It’s a Small World, but Efteling delivered. This is a fun 8-minute venture around 15 countries of the world with a catchy as fuck theme tune. Honestly, I was humming it for days. A fantastic dark ride with some great set pieces, the dragon was very impressive. Loved it!

So that’s the best bits from 2019, what were your highlights of the year?


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