Europe in the Air, which in my opinion, is the most accurate title of any ride in the world. Basically you are pretending to be up in the air and well, that’s all folks. Like I said, accurate title.
Reaching Ireland, I had to cover my eyes in horror as someone in the park’s upper management thought it would be fun to change the beautiful colors of Green and Orange (that reflected Ireland’s flag) to a cartoon color pallet from the Care Bears!!! I was in shock. I stumbled towards Europe in the Air in a odd daze that included a slight twitch of the eye while seriously thinking of going back home and picking up a bucket, a paint scraper, and paint remover; only to bring them back to the park in order to frantically remove any and all traces of pastel. Whoever thought that Ireland’s colors were Pale Periwinkle, Mint, Light Seafoam, and Lilac should be brought to trial!
I repressed my artistic urges to redecorate and passed by the building to Europe in the Air. The cue stretched passed Grogan’s Grille. Nope; not waiting for that, not after the initial reviews. So basically I just roamed around the park until dusk. I found the line much more agreeable at this time.
My initial impression walking inside the tunnel was already turning out grim. Busch Gardens refuses to remove the tired old “cave like” walls in the cue line that have been here since the days of Questor. So very sad. What really irked me is that they changed the lights out to reflect a modern airport like decor; which to me was like seeing a brass doorknocker on a homeless person’s cardboard box. (Sarcasm translation: you cannot put lipstick on a pig.)
At this point, I must point out that the acoustics in these hallways have always been abysmal. Kids seem to love it however. Apparently anyone under the age of four enjoys hearing their little screeches echo about for hours on end. Every parent seemed to ignore their lovely little ones, as they all looked too tired to care. Just as my head began to pound from the increasingly loud noise of children screams and their exhausted moms trying to talk over them about soccer games and Desperate House Wives, the teenage couple in front of us; who had up until this very moment were only making me slightly gag by their loving glances, began their attempt to break the world record for adolescent snogging. OK teens, let me tell you something. Awkward make-out sessions are not attractive. You both have no idea what you are doing with your inadequate fumbles and sloppy squid like kisses. Besides, public displays of affection could end in the death penalty in some countries; a policy I may begin to support. So spare us of the torment. I enjoyed my dinner at the Smokehouse and I would like to keep it where it belongs; happily digesting away.
Moving on.
After the cue line, a certain number of folks get pushed into a room with a big TV in the center. The little film that plays gives you a weak story of a travel agency booking us all a flight over Europe that will fit everything in in less than five minutes. OOOOoooOOOO! THEN, we are told that we get to have a special treat of flying over the Coliseum. Yippee! The travel agent, who reminded me of an Irish version of Murray from the obscure HBO show called Flight of the Concords, said we could now board. Finally.
Wait- not yet! You now have to watch a little safety video for about another 3 excruciatingly long minutes before the doors open and you can take a seat.
This is wear my heart really sank. It was the same darn platform from decades past. Even the same old worn out seat belts on the chairs!! Really?? I mean Really??? Curse you Busch Gardens! Can we ever get away from the decades old safety belts that when you push the little orange button that looks like the top of the keys to the lockers around the park, you release the restraint??
Then, all the riders get to sit and wait until an employee walks around the room checking on the seat belts before the ride embarks on the adventure. This took forever. Glaring at the screen with an ugly docking bay door that looked straight out of the movie Aliens, I began to wonder if the folks that were in the line behind us would ever get to ride in their lifetime. No wonder the wait for the ride took so darn long.
The employee made the rounds, went back to his little control house and the door closed and yes, the ride began to lift off. Joy!
Now I never kiss and tell about a ride detail by detail, but I will lay out the good and the bad. My mom always told me to say something nice, so the good goes first. The screen is now arched and there are fans blowing air on you to aid in the “flying” aspect. This was a blessing for me as the previous rides always left me a bit queasy. The music was sweeping and powerful and there were some moments of beautiful imagery. Alright, niceness is over. Now for the bad.
There should have been some narration from a pilot or someone to give the viewers something to go on. For example: “Get ready for liftoff, increasing altitude.etc”… and even some historical facts about the areas you travel to. I found myself leaning over to my husband and asking him “Is that Italy’s coast line or Monaco?” There were not even subtitles to guide you. Nothing about the seats or ride itself resembled a plane or transportation vehicle of any kind, which was disappointing. It was an unusually blurry film; much like watching a 3-D IMAX film without the glasses. The ride was extremely short for the wait and judging by the faces of the adults, we all left a feeling of despair. Well, except for the screeching kids in the cue line with us; they seemed to love the ride and were the only ones still smiling in the hallway exit.
But what of the opinion of children who find that ripping off their parent’s hard earned money to Dine with Elmo in the building next door is the coolest thing ever? Bah! I was a child once, and you know what was the coolest thing ever? That same building be used for an indoor catapult ride with special effects, awesome air conditioning, and amazing sound. There was no Elmo. Teenagers got smacked by their parents if they did more than hold hands. Kids got reprimanded when they were being too rambunctious. Busch Gardens would never paint their countries with pastel colors that looked like a little kid came in with sidewalk chalk and went crazy. Rides like Europe in the Air did not exist. Ah~ the world was a better place then.
In the end, I do not weep. I never liked the rides all that much in the same location as Europe in the Air. So, nothing has changed. It is a place I will continue to walk past when I come to enjoy the park. Perhaps in the future, Busch Gardens will revamp the location for a bigger and better ride. Or just maybe… that area behind Ireland could be used in order to add a ride for poor England; an area of the park that needs an attraction of any kind. Until that day, be prepared to be magically whisked away over and over in a lackluster adventure up in the air.
Join the discussion on the ParkFans Forum thread for the ride, here.