So my family and I visited this little park when on holiday in South-West France, and I decided to make a trip report because it's one of those parks that you never hear anything about, mainly because nothing's ever happening there. For those who don't know, Walibi Sud-Ouest (formerly Walibi Aquitaine) is a small amusement park in the south west of France, located roughly 15 minutes from Agen, about half way between Bordeaux and Toulouse. Despite wearing the Walibi moniker, Walibi Sud-Ouest is far from the coaster-packed thrill parks of Holland and Belgium. It is by far the least invested and least significant Walibi park. It's also, in terms of theme parks, in the middle of nowhere, the nearest significant park to it being Futuroscope, some 3.5 hours away. Nonetheless, it definitely seemed worth the visit, given that it was under an hour from where we were staying.
Something fairly cool to note about the park that it opens from 10am-7pm on most days in August, despite being a relatively small park. Take notes, Merlin! Unfortunately, due to transport and evening plans, we arrived at around 10:30, and would have to leave by around 4:30. Still, that seemed like enough time to squeeze in their limited offering. Upon reaching the entrance and ticketing plaza, we purchased day tickets. These are priced at 25 Euros (£22.90) per adult, not including the 5 Euro parking fee. It should be noted that this half-day park could easily be upgraded to a full-day park by including the new waterpark next-door, with combo tickets at 37.50 Euros (£34.40).
Welcome, here's an example of the obnoxious colour schemes you'll be putting up with today.
Entry to the park earns one access to an array of attractions, of which about six are "significant". These are Boomerang (a Vekoma Boomerang), Scratch (a Zamperla Wild Mouse), Coccinelle (a Zierer Tivoli), Drakkar (a log flume), Radja River (a river rapids), and Splash Battle (which I would hope is self-explanatory). However, you're quickly greeted by a sign informing you that, invariably, some of these will be unavailable. On our visit, Splash Battle was closed all day (convenient, seeing as it was 30C), and Coccinelle would open at 12.
The fact that there are five available slots on this board concerns me ...
On the advice of our relatives (who live in the area and were visiting with us), we headed to the right wing of the park to try to hop on Scratch and its surrounding attractions while the rest of the park were on Boomerang and Coccinelle, both of which are fairly near the entrance. Upon arriving, we were greeted by rammed queues. It's important to note that this park, while operations are actually fairly decent on some rides, cannot cope with crowds. Their rides are mostly low-capacity, which leads to huge queues. Still, it was only going to get worse, so we hopped into the queue. Sud-Ouest doesn't really have any queue boards or estimated wait times, but they do have "1 hour from here" and "30 minutes from here" signs on their larger rides. For Scratch, we waited from the "1 hour" sign, and were on in 50 minutes. They had 4 cars on the circuit, and were probably dispatching every 45 seconds or so, so can't really complain, although it was still a long time to wait for a wild mouse.
If you visit in August, expect to see this sign a lot.
The ride was ... meh. I had low expectations, what with it being a wild mouse, but it was nothing on the likes of Rattlesnake. The corners and drops were considerably slower and smoother than I was expecting, which kind of removed the only thing that stops these coasters from being boring. It's good for families I suppose, but I'll stick to the Maurer or Mack versions in future.
Thundering along at 10mph
Next to Scratch is a mini drop tower with a not-so-mini queue. The ride itself is shaped like a guitar, and would be relatively well-themed if it weren't for the fact that its area has nothing to do with guitars. In any case, we weren't prepared to waste our time with it.
This ride is bright blue, because that totally fits.
Just around the corner is Drakkar, the park's log flume, which we guessed was about 70 minutes, as we were a little way back from the 1 hour sign. After waiting a few minutes, we saw a fair number of people going down the adjacent fastpass queue and decided to do some research. We discovered that the park offers a wristband for 12 Euros (£11) which grants the wearer unlimited rides on the park's five most popular attractions (I think these were Boomerang, Scratch, Drakkar, Radja River and Splash Battle) through the fastpass entrance. Kind of hard to refuse with these crowds! We left the queue in search of fastpasses.
Upon arrival at the main shop, loacted at the front of the park, we were informed that they had sold out of fastpasses, despite it only being 12. Great. Well, at least they aren't overselling. We figured we may as well hit up some of the rides at the front of the park, first passing Coccinelle, which had just opened to a huge queue. Having already obtained the credit on a previous family holiday, it seemed fairly pointless to waste time with it, so we gave it a miss.
I didn't manage to get any decent photos of this, so have this rubbish one instead.
Next on the agenda was Boomerang, which was suggesting a wait of 30 minutes, which in reality took less than 20. The ride doesn't have a very high throughput or anything, so I guess the lower queue time was due to it being a thrill ride at a predominantly family-orientated park. No complaints here! I've heard a lot of complaints about Boomerangs, but I rode this first in the second-to-back row and found it quite enjoyable, very intense and not as rough as I was fearing. Don't get me wrong, I'd much rather be riding some other models of this scale, but it was a reasonable ride that just about justified the queue time.
Photo of Boomerang, complete with exclusive Burniel finger reveal.
Walking vaguely in the direction of one of the park's few eateries, we stumbled across Bateau Pirate - which translates to Pirate Ship - which was, unsurprisingly, a HUSS Pirate Ship. What was a surprise was the almost walk-on queue! The ride itself didn't seem to go as fast or high as the likes of The Blade or Black Buccaneer (the photo shows its approximate maximum height), but we did end up getting a long cycle, and the French people in the boat with us started a screaming contest between the boat's two sides, which we were only too happy to join in.
Unfortunately, I don't know the French for "can I wait for the next cycle so I can ride in the back row?"
The little lake and fountain next to the pirate ship was one of the little areas of beauty which prove that this park can look nice when it wants to.
Just along from this was an even more creatively-named ride: Chaises Volantes (Flying Chairs), a Zierer Wave Swinger! Not much to say here other than it was nice to get on another ride without much of a queue and the cycle was at least twice as long as the Merlin versions, leaving me genuinely dizzy.
Finger in the shot again ... oh, and there's a chairswing, too.
It was now 1:30, so we went and grabbed some lunch from Skunx Corner, which offers chicken nuggets, pizza and the like. Actually, "grab" is the wrong verb, seeing as it took us 40 minutes to get food, despite there being only four groups in our queue. The food is also on the expensive side, with a meal deal of chicken strips, regular chips, 400ml drink and a tiny dessert thing costing as much as 12 Euros per person. I've had lunches at Disneyworld for less money. The food itself was fairly average, but the seating area offered good views of Drakkar, which we intended on attempting to ride for the second time after lunch.
The queue for Drakkar had grown a bit more, making it look to the untrained eye like 75 minutes, but we wanted to do it, so we stood. 15 minutes later, we were nowhere near the 1 hour sign, and the reason why was becoming apparent. The number of people bearing fastpass wristbands walking right past us was ridiculous, given how much they seemed to limit them earlier. This was presumably due to it being 2:45/3 and everyone wanting a go on the water rides, but at this point I should probably explain how Walibi Sud-Ouest operates its Fastpass system.
The Fastpass system is apparently fairly new. Wristband holders walk up through either the exit or a designated queue which doesn't merge with the main queue and, 90% of the time, will be on the next train/boat. This system may be acceptable when the park isn't too busy, but when most of the big rides are 1hr+, this is not on. It should be noted that the "1 hour/30 minutes from here" signs were added before the fastpass system was implemented, so the estimated queue times are hugely understated at peak times as a direct result of their fastpass system. From all this, we deduced that the queue was probably in the region of 2 hours, and bailed.
Drakkar Queue - 2, Burniel & Family - 0
Now approaching 3pm, and with queues all packed, we were having to toy with the idea that our next ride may be our last. With that in mind, we headed over to Boomerang, to find that the queue was perhaps one train longer than earlier. However, incredibly slow operations, a surge in Fastpasses, and a breakdown right before we boarded meant that we waited almost an hour for it. This time, I rode near the front, and finally understood the hate for these rides. When going backwards, the front of the train essentially becomes the back, meaning that the backwards cobra roll was probably the most unpleasant feeling of my life. Incredibly rough, no sense of where I was, and just overall awful. I loved it in the back in the morning, but my ride in the front left a poor final impression as we exited the park, knowing that we wouldn't have time for another ride.
All in all, we achieved five rides in five and a half hours, which was disappointing, but then there's not much more at the park that I was fussed about anyway. There's plenty of kiddie rides dotted about, but otherwise it really doesn't have loads to offer. So should you visit Walibi Sud-Ouest? If you're in the area, yes. I wouldn't go too far out of my way for it, but it has the potential to be a fun and exciting day in what is often a more relaxed holiday area. Though I doubt many people reading this will ever end up at this park, I hope I've been able to help anyone who does end up in the area, and hopefully it's been interesting for anyone else who had made it this far. My final advice for this place would definitely be that if you're visiting in school holidays, get there early and buy fastpasses immediately, as they actually seem like good value.
Oh, by the way - this was my first attempt at taking and using photos from a theme park trip, so feel free to let me know how it's gone (I'm aware it needs a lot of improvement).