Europe in the Air is Busch Gardens’ new ride for 2010. It replaced Corkscrew Hill, another 4d attraction that was constructed in 2001. The original Corkscrew Hill followed the journey of you and all the other people in the theater being transported back in time and mistaken to be fairies, only to end up almost eaten by werewolves, cooked in a stew, and plunging into the depths of a rocky canyon river. However, the new ride takes you on a journey past some of Europe’s most famous monuments, including Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, and the Coliseum.
Sadly, however, whatever legacy Corkscrew Hill left, Europe in the Air definitely did not fulfill it. The first thing I noticed was that Busch Gardens did not change any of the theming (besides the ride sign, which you can view to your right) until after you pass the turnstiles. Even after that, the only changes is painting the walls blue and adding random country travel posters. While the Corkscrew Hill theming is beautiful and well made, it seems completely out of place on a ride that is themed after an airport and travel. Then, you travel into the holding chamber where you sit and listen to some weird British dude tell you about how awesome your “Two week vacation-this just in, low flying over the coliseum” trip is going to be. Then, you stand on the little lights to enter the movie theatre correctly (Tip-If you want to sit next to each other, face the screen and stand one in front of the other), and into the theatre you go. I dawned on me here that, wait, this isn’t 3d! So BGE rushed this enough so that the 3d stuff poking at you from Corkscrew Hill will not happen in this ride. Not that 3d would’ve made this much better, as 3d is a gimmick already.
So you sit in the chair, buckle your seatbelt (which really isn’t needed like it was on Corkscrew Hill), and you’re off…well, first you have to face a simulated steel wall for a couple minutes. Then it opens, and what do you see…a castle? Yes, they reconciled their lack of retheming by making the airport in the middle of a castle. Classy, BGE. Just classy. So I tried to put that behind me, and enjoy the ride. Then, as your plane takes off, you start to fly over monuments right away. But there wasn’t anything special, memorable, or even interesting. It seemed formulaic: See monument, fly down close, barely avoid trees, and fly back into the sky and do a “fast-mo” through the sky to the next monument.
The floor tilted to the flying, but it wasn’t noticeable at all. Corkscrew Hill bounced you around like a rag doll, slamming you into the seatbelt and slamming you back down. Europe in the Air is much more graceful, smoother, and all around almost unnoticeable. The wind effects were really nice on a hot day, however. Another odd thing is the quality of the video. It looked like the filmmakers went a third of the way making the film 3d, and then received the memo that the film will not be 3d, and didn’t change the quality back. This made it look really cheap.
Despite these problems, I’m glad I rode it. Why? Well, because it had a ton of wind effects that felt really nice on a 90 degree day. So if it is hot outside and there is a short line (It was open for 14 days when I rode it and at about 3:00 o’clock and the wait was an entire ten minutes), give this ride a go. But this ride is for people who like pretty visuals, not thrill seekers.
So was this ride worth tearing out Corkscrew Hill for? No. Sure, the Corkscrew Hill storyline got old after a while, but it was pretty crazy, as the floor threw you around quite a bit. While people you don’t enjoy getting beaten up would hate it, it launched you about quite a bit. Also, the storyline was quite original, with several moments of sheer (though cheesy) terror. Europe in the Air had none of the stuff. It seemed like you were flipping through a Powerpoint slideshow of the monuments with a fan blowing at you. If you want some more added realism, sit in a rocking chair. That is all it is.