The start of the 2022 theme park season has come bittersweetly for many in Europe. While Covid remains a threat, international borders have begun reopening, bringing the promise of more visitors this summer. But a war in Ukraine has reminded all in Europe, and many around the world, that the horrors of the continent’s past are not yet extinct.
In the midst of this crisis, the management at Europa Park has stepped forward to help provide a few moments of peace to those who have had that stripped from their lives.
Before the German theme park opened for its 2022 summer season, Europa Park opened some attractions early for Ukrainian refugees, including the ‘Ba-a-a Express’ children’s roller coaster in the park’s Irish themed area.
More than four million Ukrainians have fled the country, according to international estimates.
“We will help wherever we can,” Europa Park owner Roland Mack said. “We have immediately accepted 70 women and children who had fled the Ukraine into our ‘Colosseo’ hotel. I am appalled by this suffering and am touched by the gratitude I experienced when the refugees arrived. These people have been on the run for eight days, without a bed and without hot meals. They are traumatised people who have been uprooted and don't know what is happening to them. Among them many orphans, two babies and two old men. They have a mini plastic bag with all of their belongings.
“The Euromaus gifts that we gave out at least caused a brief smile among the children. People feel safe here – without bomb sirens or fear.”
The Mack family, which owns the park and Mack Rides, has been providing assistance through other means, as well, including charities and children’s funds. Europa Park will continue to welcome Ukrainian refugees to its park and hotels in cooperation with the central state reception center in Freiburg.
Europe is not just Europa Park’s theme. The unity of of a peaceful Europe is the park’s cause.
"I was a great believer of the European idea,” Roland Mack said after being inducted into the IAAPA Hall of Fame in 2016. “If you believe in something, you have to do it.”
“We speak one language, which is fun and laughing,” Mack said at the IAAPA Expo in 2018.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine might have been meant to break western unity, but it instead has strengthened the resolve of many who believe in the European idea. Including those behind Europa Park.
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