Since 1996, Movie Park Germany has offered millions of visitors an array of rides, attractions and shows based on the worlds of film and television. This year the popular Mystery River water ride re-opens as Excalibur - Secrets of the Dark Forest.

We were invited to the press preview on May 4th, to be one of the first to see the transformation of the ride and experience all of the other attractions and shows at the studio-themed park.

Our day began with an opening ceremony led by General Manager Thorsten Backhaus, who proudly announced the opening of the ride:

“There are twelve new scenes with a total of almost 400 new props awaiting our visitors. Not an easy undertaking, as the attraction is one of the largest of its kind in Europe.

The ride’s characteristics have stayed the same, but we have rewritten the story surrounding the ride. I’m sure we’ll be able to inspire all the generations with this exciting world of knights and magical beings.

Nearly 13,000 hours of work have been invested in the project, not least in order to add 15 new special effects and projections and to programme 25 new music files.”

After this it was time for the entrance sign to be unveiled, and after a somewhat humorous mishap with the velvet curtain getting stuck and then breaking part of the new sign, the ride was declared officially open. In just a few hours the sign had been fixed.

The attraction has an excellent pre-ride experience with a series of themed rooms and passages, the highlight of which being a recreation of King Arthur's Round Table where there is a video introduction to the ride. Excalibur, the legendary sword of King Arthur, has been stolen and it is thought to be somewhere in the Dark Forest. 

There are so many brilliant scenes and effects along the river rapids, with the circular boats speeding up and slowing down at key moments, encountering a raging serpent and other mythical creatures, entering caves and a castle.

A dramatic soundtrack plays throughout and a combination of huge sets, props, light and smoke effects, plus plenty of water squirters make this a hugely enjoyable ride with so much to see along the way. We had to ride it multiple times to take it all in, a great experience!

The rest of our day was spent exploring the other 6 themed areas at the park; Hollywood Street Set, Streets of New York, Federation Plaza, Santa Monica Pier, The Old West and Nickland.

Hollywood Street Set is the centrepiece of the park, a beautiful recreation of buildings from Hollywood, lined with shops and food kiosks. The famous Roxy Theatre is home to the park's current 4D cinema experience Ice Age: No Time For Nuts with all the special effects you would expect to accompany the action on screen.

The Lost Temple opened in 2014 as a major new attraction for the theme park, featuring multiple show elements and a 3D Immersive Tunnel simulator. The experience begins in an archaeological dig site where the bones of a dinosaur have been discovered. You are welcomed by an expedition team and ushered into an elevator to descend 7,300ft below ground. You pass through a huge chamber, into caverns then board a bus and head off to save the missing Dr Carter and his research team. We won't spoil what happens next!

Bermuda Triangle: Alien Encounter appears from the outside as a simple water flume ride, with the main drop emerging from the side of a volcano. However, riders board a 'research vessel' and head into the volcano for a dark ride featuring missing planes, aliens in laboratories, abducted humans and a disappearing space ship.

Our first ride in the Streets of New York was the horror themed indoor roller coaster Van Helsing's Factory. The outside of the building resembles a 1950s American garage and inside the whole queue is a really immersive experience, introducing us to the famous vampire hunter and the mission ahead of us. The roller coaster itself is an exciting ride through a series of highly detailed scenes, with multiple drops and turns, and given it's modest size it packs a real punch.

Time Riders comprises of a couple of pre-shows, first in the library of the mansion before a secret door is revealed, and another within a science lab hidden in the caves beneath. Both feature British actor John Cleese, speaking in German! No translation is offered, so it's not always entirely clear what is going on, but the gist of it is a professor that has developed a time travelling vehicle that needs volunteers to test it out. In a simulator ride not dissimilar to Disney's Star Tours, you then go on a journey through space and time. The videos and graphics would benefit from being updated.

Streets of New York also includes the highly themed N.Y.C. Transformer thrill ride, the Plaza Stage with live entertainment and a variety of places to eat and drink.

Star Trek: Operation Enterprise in Federation Plaza is a fantastic triple launch coaster based on the hugely successful TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The experience begins at Starfleet Academy, where as new recruits you enter a waiting room surrounded by replica items from the show and receive your initial briefing. You then enter a transporter room, from which you are beamed to the the starship USS Enterprise and walk onto the bridge. A transmission is received on the video screen where an encounter with the Borg is underway, and you must head to the shuttle bay to evacuate the ship. It is here that you board the coaster, and before long are leaving the starship for a thrilling ride through space.

The roller coaster features one of the best start sequences ever and packs in a 180° twisted vertical spike, 98ft tall top hat, immelmann, heartline roll, 100° over-banked curve, 270° helix and zero-g roll. It's awesome!

Santa Monica Pier is inspired by one of the most popular filming locations in California and includes a variety of family friendly rides, from the Crazy Surfer Disk'O Coaster, Stormy Cruise Rockin' Tug and Jet Ski - Pier Patrol water ride to the Santa Monica Wheel and Pier Side Carousel.

The Old West features two thrilling roller coasters, wooden coaster Bandit and suspended looping coaster MP Xpress. The former was the first wooden roller coaster in Europe, based on the Coney Island Cyclone, but due to significant re-tracking over the winter it wasn't as rough as we had feared. MP Express is a standard Vekoma model, one of 27 around the world, with 5 inversions and like many of these it is very jolty.

There are a couple of high octane flat rides here too. Standing 200ft tall with a 161ft drop, we really enjoyed The High Fall tower drop ride, but decided to give the stomach churning Side Kick a miss!

The year-round live action horror maze The Walking Dead Breakout opened in 2016 and costs an extra €6 per person, but it was well worth the additional charge. The experience does a fantastic job of recreating the iconic locations from the hit TV series, packed with highly detailed sets, numerous special effects and lots of scare actors.

Europe's largest Nickelodeon themed land includes 20 rides and attractions based on popular children's characters such as Dora The Explorer, PAW Patrol, SpongeBob, Jimmy Neutron and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The highlights here are the Splat-O-Sphere ride that towers over the land, Ghost Chasers wild mouse roller coaster, Dora's Big River Adventure log flume, plus family roller coasters The Backyardigans Mission to Mars and Jimmy Neutron's Atomic Flyer.

Crazy Cops New York was an explosive end to our day, an action-packed display of stunt driving and special effects. This wasn't the only entertainment on offer; throughout the day we saw a number of performances around the park, including appearances from Marilyn Monroe in Hollywood, fishermen on Santa Monica Pier and cowboys in The Old West. All of this extra activity really brought the theme park to life.

Movie Park Germany is less than 1 hour from Düsseldorf, with flights available from most major airports.

Buy your tickets now: Movie Park Germany Tickets