Tonnerre de Zeus TR :-))
This is an EXACT duplicate of a post of the same name under the general (American) board...
Below is Bill's most excellent adventure to Parc Asterix's Tonnerre de Zeus. I took meticulous care to provide as much detail for the American URCers knowing that most will not be as fortunate as I in having a chance to ride this stunning woodie.
At the end I provide some URL's to give the readers a chance to see this beauty and hear someone other than I sing its praises.
I sincerely hope that upon reading this you enjoy yourself but a fraction as much as I did in riding Tonnere de Zeus.
4/16/2000 @ 10:20am - Arrive at Tonnerre de Zeus, or in my native tounge, "Thunder of Zeus", queue entrance located in the far left hand corner of Parc Asterix. Parc Asterix is located in the country side of Plailly France ~18 miles outside of Paris.
Two trains are running, the weather is good and I'm only minutes away from plopping my butt down in a PTC Rolling Stock seat on one of the best tracks in the world. It doesn't get any better than this for a woodie snob!
All who enter the Tonnerre de Zeus queue are greeted by a giant, Imposing 25ft statue of Zeus, lightning bolt in hand. I suppose one could be frozen in terror while passing beneath his gargantuan legs, unless one looks up and sees his colorful, feminine panties:-)
The next thing that caught my eye were several fake fog misters just after the Zeus statue adding to the air of foreboding.
The sun is shining brightly on my smiling face as the trains and passengers scream around the track. The winding queue affords a good tree filtered view of Tonnerre de Zeus in action. The layout uses the trees and natural slope of the land as camouflage for the track structure. The turn around and double helix portions are not visible to riders in waiting. This creates an audio visual assault as trains screams into view on the terrain hugging straight-away only to disappear into the light woods trailed by the sound of screams amidst the thunder of the train. Very, Very, cool:-)
One portion of the queue takes you directly below the brake run where one can both hear and feel the power of Tonnerre de Zeus as it's tamed by the sudden brake stop 2 minutes and 5 seconds after leaving the station.
I Arrive at the Roman temple station after a 15 minute wait. The station affords a nice view of the park and the internationally famous Vekoma head banger Doudurix on the opposite side of a good sized lagoon. I'm waiting with bated breath for the back left, European Coaster Club (ECC) recommended, "Best RC seat on the planet! :-) "
After a 30 minute wait I'm on board. Towards the bottom of the lift hill I glimpse, off to my right, a skull protecting the dark reaches within its mouth. The sight line is designed so that the track heading into the tunnel is obscured from view. This visual trick makes it appear as if a huge skull is nestled in a small field.
The ride up the 90ft lift hill affords a good view to the left of the twisted double helix and crossovers. Lateral heaven surely awaits all trains that pass through there. One can also see the double turn around portion to the right of the 3937ft track as well as the two double sections of straight away track complete with several bunny hops sections.
Once at the top the train heads straight for ~.50 ft then banks slowly right as it approaches the first hill precipice. The 110ft steep first drop into the mouth of the beast is now visible,then its YEAHAAAAAA...
The back car is sucked down the drop as one gets their first taste of Tonnerre de Zeus air while plummeting toward the mouth of the beast. This intense air filled plunge towards the skull provides a visual affect that your outstretched, over-head hands are going to smack into the jaw bone of the beast. Surely the small portions of the lower jaw that have chipped off were caused by crazy American's riding with their hands up. I have never, I repeat NEVER lowered my hands instinctively until now. Dropped em about 1/2 way as a matter of fact. As quick as you enter the skull your speeding back above ground. This disorientating tunnel element is flawlessly executed at breathtaking speed.
The second drop, where the pictures are taken, provided a slice of some of the most spontaneous explosive, stand-up air of my RC life. The picture I purchased shows, quite dramatically the stand-up element in action as well as the pure joy on the faces of 4 passengers including yours truly.
Tonnerre de Zeus Isn't just an air machine either. The lateral sections of track complete with sudden direction changes at high speed were as intense and sustained as any twister I have ridden. Toss in a lack of brakes until the train is stopped and you have something REALLY special, a modern day twister that uses lateral G's to control the speed and pace of the ride.
The final trick track lateral jolt fondly reminded me of a since removed element at a similar location on my previous #1 woodie, the Riverside Cyclone. Move over Riverside Cyclone and make way for the new champion Tonnerre de Zeus!
As a footnote I must add that, IMHO, no one element on Tonnerre de Zeus surpasses the twisting first fall on the Riverside Cyclone. I must find a way back to New England this year to make an up to date assessment and comparison of these two brilliant rides.
11:47 am - Finished my 2nd back left ride after 45 minutes total ride and wait time. Ditto all the above again.
The marriage of track and the unusual 7X4 configured PTC rolling stock was a glove like fit. No doubt the 7 cars added more whipping power for those lucky back riders!
The restraint system was a single ratcheting lap bar without seat belt. This classic setup provided more than enough clearance between rider and restraint to allow air to flow freely in more ways than one. I saw one young lady in the back left seat nervously trying to get her lap bar closer to her waist. Now this is my type of lap bar!
The ECC are certainly to be applauded for their crystal clear assessment that back left is the best coaster seat on the planet. Additional praise is worthy for the Internet Wooden Poll participants for the #1 world ranking bestowed on Tonnerre de Zeus. This was, in fact, the sole reason I had heard of the ride in advance.
Another thing of note is how thrilled, excited and happy people were at the break run and disembarking area. Given that French was the language spoken throughout the park I was forced to pay more attention than normal to mannerisms and facial features. I'm pleased to report that being happy, smiling and having a good time is a universal language as is whopping and high fiving!! Don't believe I have experienced a more thrilled bunch of coaster patrons in all my days of riding the tracks.
I also observed that VERY few people rode with their hands up throughout the entire ride. On all three of my rides at least a 1/2 dozen folks started with hands up only to succumb to the hand dropping power of Tonnerre de Zeus. I kept my hands up throughout with difficulty, particularly during the Helixes.
1:52 pm - Just about ready to board my middle car right side seat after a 30 minute wait.
Although the air time isn't quite as severe in the middle seat compared to the back the laterals are as good if not a tad better. The positive G's on the far double helix make the seat dividers a blessing. To use a pun, "I'm positive the G's don't get any better than this."
There are many things to see and do while visiting Paris. If your a coaster enthusiast, particularly a woodie snob, add Parc Asterix and its wooden masterpiece Tonnere de Zeus to the short list. You won't be disappointed.
Last but certainly not least are some excellent links to add some pictures to go with my TR report.
The first link provides some grainy, yet effective, track views, comments and pictures of cheery passengers riding the rails...
The second is an absolutely outstanding construction review provided by the good folks at the European Coaster Club (ECC).
The last link provides an fantastic review of the 1997 ECC 'Tour de Force Paris' 97 coaster trip. Two parks and one faire were the clubs destination including Parc Asterix.