I’m ushered into what appears like an upright glass coffin, instructed to fold my palms throughout my chest within the traditional corpse place – after which push a inexperienced button. I’m questioning precisely what I’ve obtained myself into when the trapdoor falls open and I plummet right into a tube of fast-flowing water. It’s up my nostril, in my mouth; I can’t see and may hardly breathe for just a few tumultuous seconds earlier than the gradient of the water slide reduces from vertical to merely steep and I’m propelled round extra bends and spat out on the backside. I really feel like I’ve been flushed down a rest room.
The Vildfål is among the extra excessive experiences on the new Rulantica indoor water park, which opened on 28 November. Half an hour’s drive north of Freiburg im Breisgau in south-west Germany, it’s subsequent to Europa-Park, the nation’s largest theme park. Each are owned by the Mack household, a dynasty of entrepreneurs who’ve been attractive guests to this nook of the Black Forest since 1975. In constructing the €180m Rulantica, the household has made its largest single funding thus far.
map of Europa Park, Germany, and surrounding space.
The thought for a water park got here from Europa-Park prospects, in line with Thomas Mack, co-managing director. In making the suggestion a actuality, the household hopes the theme park’s 5.6 million annual guests (95% are German, French or Swiss) will wish to pattern Rulantica, too, and can keep a bit of longer in one of many resort’s resorts. There at the moment are six of those, the Krønasår having opened subsequent to Rulantica earlier this yr. Ticketed individually, the water park additionally offers prospects a purpose to go to year-round – whereas Europa-Park closes for a few months in winter, Rulantica will stay open all yr (on-line costs: adults €38.50, 4-11 €35.50, under-4s free).

‘Riders’ put together for the Vildfål expertise. {Photograph}: Hans-Joerg Haas
Twenty years within the planning, building took 26 months and was accomplished on time by venture supervisor Charles R Botta. The result’s a 32,600 sq m shell-shaped indoor area styled as a legendary island, with totally different exercise areas grouped round a central wave pool, and an extra space open air. As an alternative of the same old water park decor of palm timber and pirate ships, Rulantica is impressed by Scandinavia. Waterfalls trickle over rocks, trolls populate a playground for young children, and a lazy river drifts below stalactites by a cave, the place mermaids and fish hang around with Snorri – the park’s octopus mascot – in a projected animation.
It’s an acceptable theme for a park that prides itself on its eco-credentials. Rulantica’s inexperienced measures embody 3,000 photo voltaic modules on the lined automotive park and a filter system enabling 80% of the wastewater from its swimming pools to be recycled. Steps have been taken throughout building to guard animal and plant habitats across the park, together with making a bat hall and a bee pavilion – the ensuing honey is offered within the Krønasår lodge.

View of the Rulantica web site with the Krønasår lodge seen again left
I neglect to select up a map however it’s enjoyable to discover with out. I climb a stairway and uncover a door to some outside rapids. A beached steamship seems to include a set of family-friendly slides and a swim-up bar within the Skog Lagune (lagoon) is a pleasing spot to sip a cocktail in a whirlpool mattress, regardless of one couple treating it as snog lagoon.
There are 17 water slides, from entry-level thrills for tots to the complete toilet-flush expertise. I check out the Isbrekker, two brief slides ending with a 1.5-metre drop right into a pool, and the Stormvind, the place I sit on a raft on which I’m sucked down a tube into a large whirlpool. My favorite – and lots of others’, judging by the queue – is the Vinter Rytt, the place as much as 4 individuals cling to an inflatable because it plunges down a vertiginous tunnel earlier than sliding up a sheer wall and again down once more, bringing a second of weightlessness.
The park is designed for leisure as a lot as adrenaline. There are deckchairs and loungers, personal cubicles and sofas accessible at further value, and several other snack bars and cafes, the place purchases are registered in your wristband and paid for on exiting the park. Nevertheless, the menu of burgers, pizza, pasta and salads is uninspiring and there are not any free ingesting water fountains. As an alternative, you should purchase a Rulantica-themed keep-cup (€17.50; €16.50 if purchased on-line upfront) after which refill on free comfortable drinks from the dispensers. Because the park’s temperature is 32C and accessing the slides includes climbing loads of steps, hydration is crucial.

Bubba Svens restaurant on the Krønasår lodge. {Photograph}: Simon Metzger Grafikstueble
With its menu of Scandinavian and German dishes (pork schnitzel with potato salad €16.50, Swedish meatballs €15.50, roasted salmon €22), consuming within the Bubba Svens restaurant within the neighbouring Krønasår lodge is a classier affair. In line with the Nordic theme, the lodge is a set of brightly colored wood buildings set on a fjord. Inside it’s styled to resemble a pure historical past museum. An enormous skeleton of a legendary sea serpent dominates the lobby and show cupboards characteristic Nordic outfits and accoutrements from bygone days. It’s all supposed to evoke the “story” of Rulantica, a fictional narrative a couple of misplaced island, which has even spawned a youngsters’s novel (solely accessible in German).
It’s a lovely assemble with loads of household enchantment however it’s not the story that sticks in my thoughts afterwards: it’s the joys of the unknown on the prime of a slide, the adrenaline rush of being flushed feet-first down a tube, and the aid of surviving to inform the story.
• Practice journey, Rulantica park entry and lodging, on the Krønasår (doubles from €225), have been offered by Europa-Park. As a substitute for driving, take the practice (frequent direct providers from Paris, Basel, Freiburg and Strasbourg) to Ringsheim station, 3.5km from the park, after which the 7231 bus
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