The year was 2017, the country Italy and the park was Etnaland on the island of Sicily. I was part of a 2 week Theme Park tour through Italy, hitting pretty much all noteworthy and some not so noteworthy Parks between Lake Garda and Rome, with a 1 day trip to Sicily by plane for Etnaland, really only because they have the amazing Mack Mega Coaster “The Storm” there. We checked and booked everything in late April / early May for a mid to late July trip. Now, Etnaland has both a Water- and a Dry Park, for the most part they don’t operate at the same time, however when we checked on their website it listed July and August as both being open all day, however since they didn’t sell online tickets we only booked our flight from Rome and back.
We got up super early to catch our plane, took a Taxi ride to the Park and we were a bit surprised at how slow the lines at the ticket booths were going, but fine, there weren’t that many people and we had a good 8 hours planned from Park opening to our Taxi ride back to the Airport, so we had time. When it was our turn to buy tickets they where like: “Nope, Dry Park opens when you guys leave in the evening, only Water Park during the day, sucks to be you I guess.” We went to guest services, mainly because they had someone with better English experience there than at the ticket booth and they where super helpful there, at least when it comes for what they could do for us.
We basically had two options: Visit the Water Park, fly back as planned and miss out on the Coasters or find a place to sleep for the night, get new plane tickets for the next morning, reschedule our Taxi ride back from the Park, make arrangements that we will be 12 hours late to grab our car from the private Parking lot at the Airport in Rome and visit both Parks. We did the only logical thing and chose Option 2. Obviously. During all of this planning, they did admit that they changed their operating hours after the season already began and that they indeed originally had planned to have the Dry Park open during Daytime in the summer, and that they did change that. We ended up only having to pay admission for the cheaper Water Park and got free entry to the Dry Park for our troubles.
About an hour and ~150€ per Person later we finally entered Etnaland. The Park itself is great, they have really good slides in the Waterpark, with The Storm one of the best Coasters in Italy and a really good Dark Ride Themed to a School. And the upside-down view over the ocean from their Top Spin style ride is just incredible, you really can’t complain much. And since they had not that many guests in the evening we often got 2 Laps on The Storm because whenever nobody was queuing on the stairs in front of the station they just moved the train on the Lifthill for a second round without ever stopping it or even asking if people wanted to go again. They just did it.
And given the brutal heat of an Italian Summer it was really nice that the Water rides completely soaked you. They don’t bother to shut off water falls that go over the ride canals of these rides, our Rapids Raft was filled with enough water that our ankles where in it. They also have a really insane Wave Pool here. Sure, it would have been nice to have more shade on paths and especially the stair towers for the slides, but overall it was all fun.
However, shit literally hit the fan when we grabbed something to eat. It was by far the worst food I ever had, not only in a Theme Park. Just in general the worst food I ever had. I can’t even remember what it was supposed to be, but it tasted like nothing. I had something to chew on, but it had a completely, 100% neutral taste to it. Everything, the salad, the meat, all the exact same, neutral thing. And according to the other guys from my group I can even consider myself lucky that mine was just tasteless. For better or for worse we all where fine for the rest of that day.
After a okay-ish night in a very shady neighborhood in Catania, in walking distance to the Airport, we did in fact walk to said Airport for our flight back. On a side note, I am to this day 100% convinced that the only reason we didn’t get robbed that night was because our Taxi driver demanded that someone from the privately run Bed & Breakfast would come to the brightly lit Bus Stop and walk with us to the place and that we stay in the car until someone is there. Just to give you an impression for the shadyness of the area.
The real “fun” began at the Airport. I was randomly chosen for a drug test, including a in person check of my backpack for drugs. Whatever, they couldn’t and didn’t find anything Basically the moment we arrived at our Terminal, about an hour or so before Take Off, we where hit with Diarrhea, at an Airport where we didn’t even know where the Toilets are. All of us. Not the best Situation so close to the start of the boarding procedure. Nothing bad happened, but it was a bit stressful that morning.