I remember when Parque Warner was being built seeing pictures and thinking "wow, now that's an SF park done right!" Sadly all the pictures, videos, and updates that came after consistently showed an empty park, and not long after it opened SF was either kicked off the project or pulled out. I'm not sure of the official reason but remember at the time hearing the developers weren't happy with its performance so they fired SF, however not long after that was when the big fallout from SF's debt problems happened and they pulled out of Europe entirely so they may have voluntarily left. I’m not 100% sure of the official story…
…either way when you combine this with the park always looking empty, and the fact that the park is 17 years old and literally never gotten a big new ride (they got one small family coaster in 2009), I was going to this park with the expectation of it being slow and being done in like 4 hours.
Well that turned out to be an entirely wrong assumption lol. We got there and the first thing we were greeted with was a 30 minute wait for the toll plaza. One thing I didn’t think about was that while here in the States our Spring break was pretty much over, Europeans take a lot more vacation as pretty much everywhere we went after was packed as well.
First impressions were pretty disappointing. Everything I had heard about this park was that it was really nice, however driving in and walking to the gate gave me a Magic Mountain vibe. Of course the climate and surroundings are very similar but beyond that everything looked really tired and drab. There were some issues with graffiti in the parking lot, a lot of chipped paint and worn out buildings around the entrance area, honestly with all the work SFMM has been doing the past decade to clean things up I’d say Parque Warner looked even worse than MM…from a park upkeep standpoint I’d say its more comparable to GADV (ouch!)
The big ride we were looking forward to at this park was Stunt Fall (for those that don’t know me, I guess you could say I have a special relationship with Vekoma GIB’s). We didn’t see any movement as we were coming in so we figured it would be closed but walked over to it anyway to check it out. It was closed with no signs of activity, it looked abandoned like it hadn’t been touched in years. No surprises here…I figured after going to SFNE last year and having the same situation with DejaVu there that I was just destined to never get one of these again. It was pretty sad though seeing the big crowds of people flock over there with wide eyes and amazement…then being upset when they got to the rides entrance (that brings back memories!)
One random observation made at the time is that since this ride has some sort of “theme” (term used loosely) there are random cars parked under the boomerang to convey some sort of storyline, and one of them is painted to look like the General Lee from Dukes of Hazaard. But it’s not a Dodge Charger…its just a ghetto looking little boxy European car painted to look like the General Lee. As someone who lives in the south it was kind of shocking to me to think they would do this and think no one would notice…but well…its Spain...and it’s a crappy park…so probably no one does notice. Anyway that was upsetting, get your act together!
The first ride we went on was the Superman B&M floorless, which I had always known as “one with the good queue” (as well as SF Mexico’s). Interestingly enough since the entrance is themed to the Daily Planet the entrance building as well as first scene of the queue are really well themed with the offices and whatnot. But then the queue turns into a giant, pretty much unthemed, queue house before going through some unthemed straight leading into the station which is basically a tin box that reminded me of Nitro’s from the outside.
OK…so spend a lot of money to make the first part of the queue (that nobody ever waits in) really well themed…but after that spend no money on the parts that people actually wait in with a crappy unthemed queue house and tin box station. This is one of the things that always irked me about non-destination park companies like SF they just don’t think things through before building them. Also sadly the upkeep in this queue was crappy as well. It reminded me of GADV’s Superman with paint chipping everywhere, worn out bleached signs, rust, etc.
Walked through the DC area and saw the Top Spin was closed with no activity around it and kept walking over to Batman. Now this Batman is really well done, the theme is different as its themed around the Arkham (what looks to be) an insane asylum as opposed to the usual Gotham City Park/ghetto/Batcave affair. It was cool to see something different and carried out effectively throughout not only the whole queue but also surrounding area. A for effort on this one. Regarding the ride it self it was actually running VR on what looked to be the last three rows and the dispatch times were atrocious which caused a long wait. I’m not a big VR guy as it makes me sick so we rode the normal way.
Next we went over the to western USA section, home to a massive RCCA wooden coaster called “Coaster Express” (formerly known as Wild Wild West) and the Rio Bravo flume ride. Coaster Express was closed, which didn’t bother me at all, and we didn’t want to get wet so we didn’t do Rio Bravo but I have heard really positive things about it. They were doing track work on the coaster as we could see the carpenters walking the track and hammering away (though IMO explosives are the real way to fix these things, but to each his own). I did like the Western themed area thought it was pretty well done.
Next was the Tom & Jerry junior coaster which had a really long line (the kids sections at these parks in Europe were all packed…I feel like in the states the small coasters don’t ever get 30+ minute waits) but anyway its good to see families with small kids going to these parks in such large numbers. The ride itself is one of those coasters with the huge train like GADV (Blackbeard/Harley Quinn) and SFNE (Poison Ivy/Catwoman…cripes trying to remember all these names!!) and it was a decent ride. Though once again the peeling paint was really noticeable and sad. The big carton of Orange Juice really needs a repaint as well as the entrance façade. We then had lunch at one of their major quick services places in the Western themed area which again had about a 30 minute wait.
Next we decided to see the Police Academy Stunt Show which is based off the movie series. I really liked this show, though the dialogue was overly long and drab the car stunts were all really great and there were a lot of them. I’d rank it right up there with Lights Motors Action.
After that I had no desire to wait in the 90 minute queue for the Wiley Coyote family coaster and was ready to go, but since my friend is still into the whole coaster credit thing we ended up doing it. Such a massive queue for such a small coaster…however waiting through that turned out to be a blessing in disguise as when we got off he noticed one of the spools on top of one of Stunt Falls towers moved. I initially thought “ok yea right, the chances of that opening today let alone this month are zero. You are totally pulling my chain” but he made us walk over there anyway. When we got there much to my surprise they had a greeter out in front of the ride telling people to check back later (keep in mind there was no one out there earlier) so at that point we knew it was going to open. We waited about 10 minutes and it started cycling, did about 5 cycles, opened, and we got on the first train. It was a great and memorable way to end the day
Another random note the reason the greeter was giving that the ride was closed during the day was because of high winds, and now that the weather was better they were considering opening it. This was hilarious considering it was in the mid 60’s and sunny all day with no wind, and by the time they started cycling it the sun was going down and it was getting very cold. If you know GIB’s you know that cold weather is a big problem for them because when the wheel assembly’s are cold and the track contracts it greatly increases the chances for a miscatch hence why it was stupid to move DejaVu from SFMM where it was reliable to SFNE where, once again, its unreliable…but of course execs don’t know maintenance or operations and just think “oh well this park needs a big new ride and this other parks maintenance and ops budget has reached diminishing returns, so lets move this one. Anyway they got what they deserved. [/rant].
They cycled the ride like 5x in a row and then there was a long gap between when they opened the front of the queue, when we actually got to enter the station (they held us at the front of the station for several minutes), and then the time we actually got dispatched. This was making me really nervous because while we were loading I noticed there were no heaters over the track to keep the wheels warm like DejaVu at SFGAm had so there was actually a pretty big risk of miscatch. On the ride we barely made the catch on tower 1, avoiding disaster lol.
And that pretty much sums it up. Sadly this park didn’t meet expectations in terms of upkeep, maintenance, or operations but we did have a memorable ending to the day and can finally say I got to this park. I rarely ever say a park *needs* a new coaster, but this park does need a new major coaster. It’s been 17 years, spend some money!
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