Stats and Figures:
Amusement Park: Parc Astérix, Paris.
Status: Operating since 1997
Builder: Custom Coasters International, Inc.
Designer: Dennis McNulty, Larry Bill
Speed: 52 mph
Duration: 3 minutes total
The jewel in the crown for France's tiny amusement park industry, this ride is France's best. Parc Asterix is a park which encapsulates everything that is French. It's the only major French theme park, unless you count the likes of Puy de Fou and Futuroscope, which, whilst great days out - aren't theme parks in the same way as they don't offer the usual things.
So, the ride. Built in the 1990's amid much fanfare, Tonnerre de Zeus topped Hawker's Wooden Coaster Poll and stood out as the 'Best in the World' - a place now held by another European Woodie - Balder.
As you approach this ride, you can't see much of it. All you have is a giant statue of Zeus, with a bolt of lightning raised high above. His eveil eyes state to the weak: This ride is NOT for the faint hearted. Indeed, this would be the correct assumption as there is not another rollercoaster in France that offers the sheer adrenalin, rawness and at times, violence, that is offered by Tonnerre de Zeus.
As you make your way into the queue area, you may find yourself queuing through the rides final helix - but that is all of the ride you can see. The trains come crashing round every so often at an amazing pace, and appear to hurtle into some incredibly violent breaks.
As you make your way into the station area, you notice it is themed as a large temple. Sure, it isn't Poseidon - nor is it anything you could find at Disneyland - but it's a good station, and better than many offerings found in Britain.
There are two trains, a red one and a blue one. You take your seats in the trains, and you feel vulnerable from the word go. It begins to move forward and the ride has begun - you are still unsure the scale of the ride at this point and it is only when you begin the ascent of the lift hill that you realise quite what you are doing.
You rise and rise, and soon you can see what it is. It is immense. Massive. It's over one thousand feet longer than Megafobia - and it's faster and higher too. Quite how you will survive it may be entering your head at this point. As you arrive at the summit, all 100' of it, you gently bend round to the right before the relentless two minutes begins.
You plunge down with incredible vigour into a pitch black tunnel at 52mph before heading skywards into a right hand helix and some further drops and hills. The fantastic downward banked helix is immense and the speed just seems to keep up. At times, violence takes you through one sharp corner to the next and more hills and helixes continue to take you on one of the rawest coasters i've experienced. You'll not see many people throwing their arms into the air, as the tiny trains make you feel like death is iminent. Continuous sharp bends, hills and banked helixes ensure that you are constantly engaged with the ride and constantly gasping for breath. You blast your way into the final helix, across the waiting queueline and into the breaks - which stop you with alarming haste. You are thrown forward before being allowed time to catch your breath and gently making your way round to the station before heading off to check out your photo. Long haired people BEWARE, your hair will look like Medusa - the power from the wind where the photo is taken is truly amazing!
The ride is long, relentless, never boring, vulnerable, fast and exciting - something all coasters aim to achieve. It's theming is sufficient, without being spectacular (except for the Zeus statue and lettering on the ground) and the ride is truly Asterix's jewel.
TDZ Photo's and Videos:
ON RIDE: http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?doc ... re+de+zeus
Theme and Setting: http://www.rcdb.com/ig752.htm?picture=2
Zeus warns all riders: http://www.rcdb.com/ig752.htm?picture=18
Station building and Goudurix: http://www.rcdb.com/ig752.htm?picture=16
First Drop: http://www.rcdb.com/ig752.htm?picture=15
Vulnerable Cars: http://www.rcdb.com/ig752.htm?picture=19