Eatrenalin at Europa-Park, Germany describes itself as ‘the world’s most exciting gastronomic experience.’ For many theme park fans, it has simply become known as ‘the dark ride restaurant’, famous for the fact that in this restaurant, you sit atop a moving chair. Opening in November 2022, the restaurant has maintained an air of mystery, and as such I, team member Claire, had no idea what to expect when I visited to celebrate a milestone birthday. So, join me as I experience the self-described ‘exciting stage play in which the interplay of all senses plays a lead role.’
Throughout the experience, there are three rooms in which you are allowed to take photographs. Those are ‘Lounge’, ‘Ocean’ and ‘Umami’, so please forgive the lack of photos elsewhere. Hopefully, these spaces will help give you an idea of what to expect inside, as for the rest, I’ll try my very best to do it justice with words alone…
As you step through the non-descript solid black doors of Eatrenalin, you’re greeted by yet more black. A black curtain that immediately enshrouds you. One you must push through to enter the first room, The Lounge. My first thought on stepping in here was how far out of my comfort zone I was. It felt like the sort of bar – and clientele – that Bruce Wayne would frequent. But the staff did wonders to put us at ease, helped in no small way by the copious amounts of free (well, inclusive) champagne (Laurent-Perrier La Cuvée) served to us by a woman dressed as a stream of bubbles, her golden dress adorned with plastic spheres. I promise it was prettier than it sounds. Here we would remain for half an hour, and sample the first of our dishes. Whilst we relaxed, and the champagne (or non-alcoholic equivalent) was refilled, servers brought around the snacks. As a vegetarian, I was enrolled on the Green Dimension, the restaurant’s vegan menu. As such, my snacks were a watermelon-based savoury canape which was surprisingly rich in umami given its core ingredient, and a crispy cube formed from sweetcorn (my meat-eating partner received a duck cube). They were both tasty, but not extraordinary, and made for a great starter alongside the wine. After 30 minutes had passed, the walls of the room turned blue to signal that it was time for blue group (our assigned group) to begin their journey.
And so we stepped through into Waterfall. This was an empty chamber, empty bar the large ‘waterfall’ in the centre. The waterfall was formed of a larger cylindrical screen, on which digital water flowed, as a small amount of real water fell around it. It was honestly the sort of trippy, futuristic silliness that I expected at this point. Here we were delivered more introductory information, all in German of course, but the hosts knew our nationality and were exceptionally helpful, taking us to one side at every point to explain what had just been said. We also received the next of our dishes, a crisp roll atop which was piled caviar (in my case, a seaweed-based substitute), which didn’t taste like much to me. I didn’t want it to, I really do hate seafood! Hot towels were distributed to cleanse our hands and faces (they smelt precisely like those little wipes KFC give out) and it was time to move on. Everyone’s names were projected onto the wall, alongside a number, and we were instructed to line up in our given number order.
Filing through in order into the next room, it was finally the moment we had all been waiting for. In this large room, the only empty floor space was the very edge of the room, around which our numbers were ready and waiting. The entire centre of the room had been filled with an enormous white sheet. The space appeared almost like a house that was getting a re-paint, filled with concealed furniture, and I was pretty certain that I knew what would be waiting underneath. But before we could find out, our palates must be cleansed! Large, volcano-shaped dishes were distributed, each with a small green sphere atop the summit. Like a giant boba ball, this sphere erupted once eaten, filling my mouth with lemongrass, cucumber, and aniseed. I am not sure it was exactly pleasant, but it did cleanse all other flavours from my mouth. So, job done! But finally, it was time. Projected lights flowed through the sheets, filling the scene with electricity and drama, before the sheet began to ascend, being pulled up slowly and deliberately by a wire in each corner, revealing the group of floating chairs beneath. Each seat had been pre-laid with a glass water bottle, and staff came around to distribute a cloth napkin in a ring, as well as a set of cards explaining the rules regarding photography. The chair itself was a comfortable brown leather armchair, with two accompanying tables. On these were multiple buttons, the purpose of which was never explained, at least not in English. We would never use them. At the instruction of the hosts, we climbed aboard, and slowly, ever so slowly, began to move. The ride had begun.
The very first place our floating chair would carry us was the Ocean. Here, a large screen dominated the space, depicting the ocean waves. Thankfully, the theming was not entirely screen-based however, with some impressive rock-work suspending from the ceiling and various artefacts displayed across the other walls. As our vehicles drew to a stop, a tray emerged from the table in our chair, a tray filled with seashells. Atop this, our first true dish was placed, served inside an enormous shell of course! The bartenders also came around to provide us with our paired beverage, a cocktail with flavours of rose and peach. This would be my least favourite dish of the night by a country mile, but that was always going to be the case. As previously mentioned, before being vegetarian I had always hated seafood, so my seaweed-rich dish just didn’t appeal to my palate. Thankfully, there was plenty to enjoy in the space, as the screen charted a day’s sunlight over the waves, with the sun settling as the staff came to take away our shells and glasses. The atmosphere was incredibly serene. Our time with the ocean was through and it was on to somewhere just as adventurous.
Our journey transported us from the realms of the sea to the realm of taste. In a black room, whose walls were lined with overflowing spice racks from floor to ceiling, we were each handed a box. It seemed almost akin to a luxurious chocolate box, the kind that Ms Trunchbull would declare was far too good for children. With a dramatic flourish, in time with the narration, the lid of the box would be flipped open by the wait staff to reveal four small glass dishes, perhaps three centimetres in diameter, each with a small concoction on top. Projection mapping on the ceiling revealed that we would be working through four tastes: Sweet, Sour, Bitter and Salty. The projections began to alternate between these and each time, as words were projected onto the ceiling, the relevant dish in the box would illuminate. The meaning was clear, upon lighting, we all eat that dish together. Sweet? That was fine. It was tasty, some sort of honeycomb-esque thing. It was sour and bitter that would be the problem, and they certainly didn’t hold back! I’m not sure what exactly was used for sour, but bitter certainly involved some citrus peel. Thankfully, ‘salty’ was a small, extraordinarily salty, crisp which helped cleanse the peel from my mouth. Not exactly the most delicious of experiences, but certainly the most theatrical of the dishes!
Our next adventure would take us into the world of Umami, and into the last themed space we’d be able to take photos in. This Asian-inspired room had all guests dine together at a large table, watched over by an enormous gong. This gong would be used to signify the beginning and end of our dining experience within the space. Whilst in Umami, I was served stunningly beautiful nigiri (hopefully in the photo you can see just how shiny it is, it shone like a gemstone!) and some delicious dim sum alongside an umami broth, somewhat akin to miso soup but richer. The accompanying drink here was a delicious sparkling sake. This was my most anticipated part of the journey, with East Asian cuisine always being my food of choice, and it almost entirely delivered. The flavours were, as you’d imagine, rich with umami, but I couldn’t help but leave feeling like I’d eaten more flavoursome dim sum elsewhere. The nigiri truly was a showstopper though.
In a break from tradition, the next room would be the only in the whole experience where no food or drink was served. For this reason, it’s not given a name on the website, or in the cards handed to diners. This, instead, is the one true dark ride space. If you’ve been fortunate enough to visit Space 220 at EPCOT, you’ll recognise the premise here. Large, deep-set screens fill the ceiling of the room, depicting the vast emptiness of space. The rest of the room resembles a minimalist spacecraft, and we know what is about to happen. It’s time for us to journey to space. Audio (in German, of course) goes through what I assume were the motions of a controlled take-off, and the seats that have dutifully carried us this far begin to shake aggressively. As we all bounced up and down in our seats, the lighting and screens showed us moving across space. Reaching, eventually, our next room: Universe. This was undoubtedly the silliest part of the whole experience, and I enjoyed it immensely.
Whilst the journey to space may have been a little silly, there was nothing whimsical about the next room. If I had to describe Universe – and I do, I’m reviewing it after all – I’d say it was akin to a villain’s lair in a science fiction film. It was a large, deep black space, filled with sizeable round tables and minimal lighting. The tables were the highest up from the chairs that they’d been, and I was a little dwarfed by them. It felt like the kind of place that the commanders of the Death Star might eat on special occasions. Out of the darkness, waiters silently emerged to deliver our meals and their accompanying drinks (Celeste Tempranillo, a red wine). This would be the largest meal of the experience, with the dish being about the size that I’d expect from a main dish at a fine dining restaurant. It was also, thankfully, my favourite of all the food I’d eat. Artichokes, mushrooms and pears were assembled in a large circle and had far deeper umami than I’d experienced even in the umami room. The flavours were rich, savoury and delicious, with a delightful sweet twist from the pear. If this dish had been available at any regular restaurant, I would have been returning for a second visit! We spent an accordingly long time in this room, which was a bit of a shame as it was certainly the least themed of the spaces, but hey, who’s complaining when the food is this good?
The final stop on our culinary adventure would be Incarnation. Here, the guests were assembled around a single, very large round table for dessert. The entertainment in this space would be different to any of the other environments. We were presented with a show. At the end of eating our desserts – my apple-based dessert was okay, but not particularly impressive sadly – a ballet dancer emerged. Holding a single rose, the dancer performed around the space, twirling to the music, before stopping at the seat of one of the guests. Me. She handed me the rose, and danced her way out of the room. At that point, a host entered the room, we were each handed a card asking us to tip, and we were escorted from the experience.
At the exit, adjacent to the cloakroom, is a final bar. Drinks here are not included in the experience and can be purchased as usual. Inside the bar there is also a gift shop, where mostly expensive – as you’d expect – souvenirs are available for purchase. If you’d like a set of the chopsticks you used in Umami, you can take them. For €110. A pin badge will set you back €45. However, if you’re only in the market for an umbrella, you can pick one up for a reasonable €30. Also, interestingly, you can purchase the ‘Sound of Eatrenalin’ on a USB stick for €35. I do slightly regret not purchasing this one! If you’re staying in the adjacent Hotel Krønasår, you’ll also find a small selection of this range available in their gift shop. Having already consumed an alcoholic beverage in every section of the experience, we opted not to enjoy the offerings here and instead to wrap things up and begin to digest our experience.
Eatrenalin is an experience like nothing else I’ve ever come across. This is a Michelin Guide restaurant (no stars, yet) packed with the kind of technology and discovery that makes theme park fans like me, and most likely you, giddy. Whilst there is only one true ‘scene’ in this adventure – and definitely don’t expect any animatronics – it’s a trackless wonder. The theatrics, and general showmanship are second to none, and whilst the experience was fully in German, our hosts consistently went above and beyond to ensure we were in the loop, as they did to ensure my dietary requirements were catered for. The food itself was a little disappointing, with only a few stand-out items, though I’m no food critic, as I’m sure is apparent. At €255, this is also a stunningly expensive experience. I don’t think I can, in good conscience, ever say that a meal is worth that sort of money. But as a celebration of a milestone, it was the best thing I could possibly have wished for, and something I’ll certainly never forget.
Is Eatrenalin on your to-do list? Have you already experienced this unique themed attraction? Let us know via our social media channels!