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The Great Zo

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  1. As happens quite often in these trip reports, I climbed a tower. Looking down at Formule X and the back half of Driveliet. A carouse and Ferris wheel in the distance. Down below, a tractor ride through Old McDonald's farm. Oh, as for the tower? It's a slide tower, and TPR is off to the races. The competition is fierce... ...but Barry comes out on top! And then I headed down myself, and there must be evidence of this since four different people are presently taking my picture. Right next to the slide is Theeleut. That's a fancy way to say Teacups. You can also get some cupcakes from the statue next to the ride! "Lots of love from Drievliet" We had three or four teacups going, with our groups sorted out by how much people felt like spinning. I went for the "no spin" cup, but these guys were getting theirs cranking. Larry's smiling because he's still thinking about NeuroGen. The true teacup pros show us how it's done. They really got that thing spinning. Smile, if you're not too dizzy. Up at the front of the park, there's a large wet-dry slide complex. The lines weren't too long, so a few people went to ride, and I used it as another excuse to climb a tower. That's Twistrix in the foreground, with Formule X behind it. This is the first look at the ocean-themed area at the front of the park, which contains some play areas and several flat rides. Say hi to the whale when you pass by on the park's small train. We rode this one -- it's a breakdance called Draaikolk. It might have actually been my first ride on a Breakdance, though I doubt this was among the more extreme examples of the ride type. It seemed to be a hit with the families who rode. Also, it's got a big tornado of fish in the middle, and that's pretty cool. Here's the front of the slide tower -- there are three with straight drops, and one with an enclosed helix. Splashing down at the bottom. These two somehow managed to peel out, which I would call a skill. If the last TPR slide race wasn't exciting enough, now we'll do it with water! But wait! Barry and Ryan have taken an unfair head start. Barry is celebrating, but deep down inside, he knows he's broken the rules. Barry thinks he's about to win his second slide race in a row, but cheating's not gonna fly around here. Keep screaming, but I'm declaring the two of you disqualified. By default, that makes Daniel and AJ the winners. Congrats on your sorta-victory! Drievliet's got an old-school haunted dark ride called Spookmuseum. It's the one slightly-creepy attraction at Drievliet, but it's not particularly frightening inside. "De Tijdreizigers" means "The Time Travelers." Not sure how well that theme carried through the ride, though. Good luck, Ryan. There are a few other small flat rides in the area. Here's a little spinny pedaly flying thing. Sorry for the awful description. Here's a kiddie drop tower. Here's a horsey thing. And next up -- the Drievliet monorail. As monorails go, it's quite possibly the shortest track on one that I've ever seen. Angelic art detail on the front of the monorail. The first bit looks like this -- quite forested. You'll get a view into the station of the park's powered coaster, which I haven't even mentioned yet. There's another western-themed family ride down below. We've got some swings here -- another classic park staple. Finally, you'll get a brief view of Formule X -- and with they way they move people through that ride, you'll probably get to see it in action. An elevated view of a Formule X inversion. This is the first element right after the launch. Probably the most exciting part of the ride. I spy an airtime hill! That brings us back to the station. It's perhaps the world's only monorail short enough that they send you through the circuit twice. The balloon-themed Ferris wheel towers over the back section of the park, and of course I had to give it a spin. Here's the view of The Hague to the northwest. The canal is called the Haagse Trekvliet, and the flag in the foreground is that of the adjacent municipality of Rijswijk. Several skyscrapers in The Hague are quite visible from here. Some day I'll get back to this one and ascend to the observation tower, but for now, this little balloon Ferris wheel will have to do. Another view of the canal, one of three canals that intersect near Drievliet -- the Haagse Trekvliet, the Delftsche Vliet, and the Vliet. That adds up to three Vliets. And the number three, in Dutch, is "Drie." Put it all together, and now you know how the park got its name. The previous day featured views of farmland and wind turbines. This time, I've got high rise buildings in an urban environment. Church steeples -- often with green-tinted roofs -- are common. Way off in the distance, you can see Rotterdam. In the foreground, a return to Drievliet. There's Kopermijn, with its tight corners and old mine theming. The Spookmuseum haunts guests just below. The kiddie drop tower was also nearby, but there's one more ride yet to come. I take lots of log flume photos, but I don't often have a chance to get them from up high. So, here are some Ferris wheel shots of Drievliet's log flume, Jungle River. There were some people, like this kid, who were basically doing marathon runs on the flume. It's basically a standard-issue fair circuit double-drop log flume, but they added some jungle theming and made it look nice. Looks like I'm just in time to catch a few TPR riders on the flume. It's a splash. Caroline and Colin got themselves some water. Caught Ryan on the flume also. (we had two Ryans, but at that's not as bad as having four Andrews)
  2. Monday, July 22, 2019 Day 11 Part 1: Drievliet Our final day in the Netherlands had arrived. (Well, actually we thought we'd be briefly returning to Amsterdam a few days later, but, uh, that didn't happen. Another story for another day.) In the mean time, we had two small parks on our Monday agenda, and both were parks I'd never been to before. No more mixing old pictures into the TR -- everything here is fresh from a first-time visitor. For our first park, we headed to The Hague to visit the small family park called Drievliet. When I say small, I mean it. Drievliet covers a surface area of about 0.04 square kilometers. As a point of comparison, Efteling and Walibi Holland are both about 0.50 square kilometers. Driveliet's a pretty tightly-packed park, crammed with fun rides mainly geared toward families and kids, along with a few unique attractions you can't find anywhere else. We started the day with a Filming / ERT session on all three of the park's coasters -- Formule X, Kopermijn, and Twistrix. One thing that was nice about this filming session is that with the whole group together, I was able to get pictures of just about everybody, especially on Formule X and Twistrix. After we were done with filming, we had two hours of free time to check out the rest of the park. I had to move quickly to get on a few rides and still get the pictures I wanted, but I think I was mostly successful. The park also gifted us bright red Drievliet zip-up hoodies, which was very nice of them. I know I'm not the target audience for a park like Drievliet, but I really liked the place. They've got a great mix of attractions for the younger crowd, with some fun theming that the kids probably enjoy. They basically have zero room to expand, so I'm not sure how they're going to handle new additions, but their current formula is working pretty well. Since there are only a few rides worth mentioning, I'll cover the reviews in the photo captions. Short versions: Formule X packs a lot into a tiny footprint, Kopermijn is everything you'd want (or not want) out of a wild mouse, and Twistrix was an unexpected hoot! Ha, see what I did there? Be sure to check out the official TPR videos from and . And now, pictures. Before you can enter Drievliet, you must first cross the silver bridge of death. OK, it's not really that dramatic -- the bridge crosses over a big freeway construction project, which will eventually link the A4/A13 interchange with The Hague's central district. The road tunnel you can see in this picture is called the Victory Boogie Woogie Tunnel. I'm completely serious. With that little bit of Dutch freeway knowledge imparted, we'll continue crossing the bridge... ...and make our arrival to Drievliet, with the skyline of The Hague in the background. These buildings made a previous appearance several TR segments in the past, but now they've got theme park rides in the foreground. You can tell from their branding that Drievliet is intended to be a family destination. Here's your big photo spot at the front of the park -- get a picture with the Drievliet pelican, who's eating a fish, and standing on a cow. That pretty much covers all the bases, doesn't it? A list of the park's attractions. The park was set to open at 10AM, but we were there an hour early for filming. Oh, and free coffee! Our first coaster was Formule X -- a launched Maurer X-Car coaster. Some Formule X statistics, though knowing some Dutch would help. A map of the layout -- it's small, but quite twisted. The coaster looks pretty tall in a convex mirror. Several TPR members exhibiting various degrees of "9AM ready-to-ride." Now they all look alive! Except for Rector. Green means go -- here's the launch track. Hey! AJ! I just passed you in your trip report! Get back to work on it! The evil sun made this picture not-so-good but I'm including it anyway. Launches are always good for pictures. Formule X is an interesting mix of elements -- quite heavy on hangtime and slow curves, but with a bit of airtime to mix in with the inversions. It's not the world's most intense coaster, but this is a family park, so it's probably about as extreme as you'd want to go. What I like most about Formule X is that it's a unique, creative use of a small footprint. There aren't that many X-Car coasters around. Barry and Daniel launching like normal people. This will be an important distinction later. Coming out of one of the inversions. AJ and Ryan launch, while Robb films from the exit platform. Up high on one of the curves. Steve knows where the camera is. Chuck's hanging on tight. And yet, it's the other guys who look to be having a greater degree of difficulty. I think these are my first pictures of Barry and Daniel doing "The Method." The best way I can describe "The Method" is to intentionally ride a roller coaster in a manner that makes it as likely as possible to snap your spine in half. They assure me it's fun, but I have my doubts. (also, Barry's doing a far better job of it than Daniel.) Formule X ERT continues. Some people rode and rode again, but I loved the opportunity to get pictures of the whole group on the coaster. Someone might have asked these guys to look as terrified as possible. They're pretty good actors. An exhilarating ride comes to an end. What, no Method on the brake run? Just a couple more from this coaster. Thumbs up for an enjoyable Maurer ride! Kopermijn is up next -- and as you can see, it's themed to crazy miners who haven't been to the dentist in a while. Here's the queue and the ride station. Kopermijn is a Maurer wild mouse, and Maurer mice are known to be a little on the violent side. A Kopermijn success story from Erik and Smisty -- or is that Smisty and Erik? In a glowing review in Erik's TR, he said that Kopermijn was wild in the best way. I thought it was a little too wild, but I admit I'm sort of over the whole "getting beat to hell on those unbanked hairpin turns" thing. Another TPR car pulls into the station. Twistrix is the final coaster at Drievliet. In another TR, somebody challenged the reader to figure out why it's themed to owls. Well, "twist" is what the ride does, and "strix" refers to a mythological owl-like bird. Unfortunately, this debunks my previous theory that the ride's designer had simply been listening to "Fly By Night" by Rush. Like the other coasters at Drievilet, Twistrix is made by Maurer. Unlike the other coasters at Drievliet, Twistrix is made up of a long train of two-seater cars, each of which can spin independently of the others. To the best of my knowledge, Twistrix is a one-of-a-kind coaster, with no duplicates anywhere on the planet. The official video from Twistrix hasn't been posted yet, but here's a behind-the-scenes view of its filming. Given all the spinning, I have no idea how it's going to turn out. Erik wants to know why there aren't more coasters like this elsewhere. Ryan and Steve get twisted. AJ and Ryan take a quick breather as the ride pulls into the station. Chris and John head up the lift hill... ...and at the top of the lift, the spinning begins. If this video ever gets posted, those who suffer from motion sickness may want to tune out. The coaster's layout is quite simple -- it's basically just goes twice in a circle. The fun comes once the cars begin to spin. Checking in with Brad and Larry... ...while Daniel and Caroline share a laugh. The spinning is totally random and uncontrolled. Hi Smisty! As the spinning intensifies, Steve hangs on tight... One of the too-many-Andrews, keeping his head down. Brace yourself, Daniel! The corners are pretty tight, and usually they made the spinning more intense. This may, in fact, be the most intense ride at Drievliet. Not saying that Daniel was going to fly out if he didn't hold on, but stranger things have happened. I think all the cars were spinning pretty good by this point. Larry looks like he's still feeling that NeuroGen thing from the day before. Twistrix was a surprise hit -- just a load of fun! Probably about as much fun as you can have on a coaster with a booster wheel lift hill. Really, I think the only spinning coaster I've done with TPR that was as fun as this one was -- and this is reaching way back -- the Jungle Twist coaster at the Texas State Fair Park in 2013. That was insane, and this was very close to it. That was a fun first hour at Drievliet! Two hours to go, and plenty more to see.
  3. Going through some pics from last year's TPR trip and forgot I had meant to post a comparison of the pre-renovation and post-renovation versions of Carnaval Festival. I took pics on the ride in 2016 and again in 2019, and after looking back the changes became more obvious. The newer versions are definitely cleaned up quite a bit. You can tell they improved the lighting too. --- --- --- ---
  4. Great post, Chuck. Really interesting overview of the parks in China. Half of them are genuinely attractive, well-themed, and in beautiful locations. The other half look like the inspiration for Energylandia.
  5. I'm realizing I don't actually have any pictures of us riding the raft at Duinrell, which probably means I was too worried about the thing sinking to be taking pictures.
  6. Scenic World looks appropriately scenic. I'd only heard about the place before because of the whole thing with Orphan Rocker, but if I can live through visiting four parks with inoperable RMCs, I can probably handle that one. Also, calling an SLC "Lethal Weapon" is a little too on-the-nose.
  7. Flumes are always great for a laugh, especially with how everyone over-acts from a few splashes of water! It was my favorite also, but I have Wildfire right below it. No question that Untamed is better paced -- perfectly paced, even. I just think those first few elements on Wildfire, with the view over the forest and the water, are just about unbeatable. Tough call between those two. Ugh, that's not helping! I'm already upset I missed it! Thanks! I may have taken a few pictures of the support structure, but those aren't as fun. Last-few-years Vekoma is such a world of difference from everything that came before. Can you imagine if they replaced El Condor with a bigger version of what they just put in a Tripsdrill? They could even call it Son of El Condor. (Hijo Del Cóndor?) Did you ride Mad Mill? That looked about ten times worse. Did anybody ride more than like, 3 things at Duinrell? That place was mobbed. Laughing about Tomahawk, though. Not sure anyone really wanted to ride it, and we may have passed the time queuing by referencing some ... recent incidents ... with other similar rides ... Put this on a billboard. The marketing writes itself. #HARDGAAN
  8. I did a trip report from Walibi Holland, but had some extra pictures that didn't make the cut. Figured I'd just dump the outtakes here, sans captions. All from 2019 except for two from 2016. (photo from 2016) (photo from 2016)
  9. From the best coaster in the park to... ...El Condor. This photo is from 2016, when I rode El Condor, and regretted the decision. In 2019, Joey Schadenberg rode El Condor something like 200+ times to raise money for charity. We've all got our things, I guess. El Condor is located in the park's Mexican-themed area. To be honest, as other sections of the park re-brand into the modern/irreverent Walibi Holland style, I wonder if this area may need a makeover soon. (photo from 2016) It's painful just looking at this picture. (photo from 2016) Speaking of painful, Colin and Caroline are obviously having a great time. Daniel is terrified, as anybody riding a 1994-built prototype Vekoma SLC should be. Chris, Ryan, and Barry almost look like they're ... enjoying it? No, that can't be. Barry is actually hanging on for dear life, while David ... is intentional smiling for the camera? Good acting. Welcome back riders, how was your ... oh. El Condor is certified rotten. Why is El Condor so bad? Well, you could start with the mark of quality on these wheels, for one... (photo from 2016) Walibi Holland might be the only park in the world with bumper cars themed to drinking and driving. There's also a ride themed to sombreros. It's a Moser Fiesta Mexicana, and it was very alright-ish. Hey, remember the raft I saw from the Ferris wheel? Well, we're gonna use it. In our last adventure at Toverland, we had the trip's first rafting experience, and it mostly went well. How would we do at Walibi Holland? Daniel leads the way, steering our ship to shore. Pull harder, guys, and we just might make it. ...and then we started taking on water. You know, the raft advertised a limit of 8 people, and we only had 8 people. Don't blame us! We sorta had to re-distribute our weight to balance things out, while the little engines that could pulled us the rest of the way across. Perhaps as some kind of penance for almost sinking the raft, Stacy and Colin returned to the other side to ferry a few other park guests across the way. And here I thought theme parks were just fun and games. A rafting success! And our feet were only a little wet. Speaking of wet, here's Blast -- a Huss Top Spin. I don't ride Top Spins, but I do take pictures of people riding on Top Spins. As the ride cycle begins, our heroes have no idea what they're in for. Fear sets in as things start getting a little wild. The water kicks up! (I think it's just a fountain in front of the ride) After several repeated cycles and fake-out endings, the Top Spin comes to a rest, and our participants seem to be alright. ...well, mostly alright. So, it comes to a final stop, and then... ...ha ha ha you're going one more time! Caroline was not pleased with the Top Spin's excessively-long multiple cycles. Aw just kidding she loved it! Another old picture -- here's what Merlin's Magic Castle looked like in 2016. Here is what it looks like now. It's covered in graffiti with weird pop culture references. The inside is still the same, though -- a dated magical story, told via Vekoma Madhouse. We've got one coaster yet to cover, and it's one of my favorites -- Lost Gravity. (photo from 2016) It's hard to describe this coaster, but it's a fantastic example of how to make a truly crazy ride with a small footprint. Any discussion of Lost Gravity has to begin with the queue, though -- including the ride sign. (photo from 2016) The whole concept here is that gravity has been lost, reality is beginning to fade, and the laws of physics no longer apply. It was basically a fantastic excuse for Walibi Holland to get weird. The upside-down helicopter is actually a DJ booth! (photo from 2016) On the 2016 trip, Scott Bravenboer led us through the queue's old school bus. Getting closer to the main part of the queue, we come across a bunch of stacked-up shipping containers. A garden table and some chairs ... installed upside-down on the ceiling. A FEBO machine filled with Lost Gravity merchandise. A broken escalator leads up to another shipping container. The inside of the shipping container is an amazing phantasmagoria of color-changing lights and mirrors. (photo from 2016) It would not be hard to lose track of gravity in this place. Honestly, it's one of my favorite parts of any queue for any ride anywhere. (photo from 2016) This picture is from our filming session on the 2016 trip, and the rider reactions are fantastic. When this thing ends, it's a feeling of "what the heck just happened?" Track reflections on the shiny ride vehicles. (photo from 2016) Oh, and there's fire. Every ride is better with fire. (photo from 2016) Lost Gravity's elements include some sharp airtime hills, some slow inversions, and a weird mix of intensity. (photo from 2016) Here's one of the better airtime moments on the ride. The first drop is /extremely/ abrupt. You crest the lift and you're diving down to the side almost immediately. You really feel like you're getting yanked down, especially if you're in the back row. Steve loved Lost Gravity so much, he jumped in the single rider line multiple times near the end of the day. Can't say I blame him. Lost Gravity is a fantastic coaster. Somebody in the US needs to build one of these. Nearing the end of the night, our group walked around a bit more and rode a few more flats. We got a couple more rides on Goliath right before the park closed. The back car proved quite popular with our group. From there, it was back over to Untamed for another lengthy ERT session, wrapping up a very fun day. That's the end from Walibi Holland. Huge thanks to Scott and Marco for making this a really special visit for TPR!
  10. Before we continue on with the photo tour, we have to take one more step back in time. This is Robin Hood, as seen in 2016. It's a rare Vekoma woodie built in the year 2000. It was not good. We rode Robin Hood on the 2016 trip. I think we actually filmed on Robin Hood on the 2016 trip. I gave it two rides just to try to be nice or whatever. It wasn't an enjoyable experience. But hey ... what would happen if they called up those guys from Idaho? This is what happens. This is Untamed. Well, this is the Untamed ride sign and the turnaround. But you get the idea. It's a very nice ride sign, as Caroline has deftly modeled! Before we get to the coaster, let's look at some of the theming. You've got this bizarre doorway over by the exit area. The on-ride photo booth basically says you're ugly. There are weird posters up on the walls of the building, including this odd cat-person-thing... ..."the fine art of goofing off"... ...and an ode to the T-Rex. Also, the Untamed test seat is in an outhouse. Looking up at the station and the lift hill, you can see some of the ride's weird theming -- large rusted-out lighted signs that say "LOVE" and "BE BRAVE" on the lift and station entrance, respectively. Inside the station, it's like if a greenhouse had been left untended for a year, allowed to grow wildly on its own. We have taken the trip. Even the lighting in the station is interesting. They left no stone unturned with this ride. Coming out of the station, Untamed begins... ...with an outward banked turn on the way to the lift hill, for no apparent reason. RMC loves to throw in pre-lift weirdness, just because it's amusing and fun. As a train crests the lift... ...our photo tour has begun! We headed backstage along the right side of the lift hill. This might be the most TPR picture in TPR history. We basically had free reign to find all the good camera angles for Untamed. There are several good spots to view the entrance and exit to the 270-degree stall. From below, it looks like it's just heading into a normal inversion. But this is RMC, so normal is out of the question. I've gotten some of my favorite rider reaction shots as coaster trains are just heading into the brake run. Here's another example of that. We moved into the infield to continue the photo tour. Absolutely love this camera angle coming out of the 270-degree stall. A sideways twist coming out of the turn-around. Looking up at the second inversion in the stall. You're never going to have a problem with dull rider reactions on an RMC. Off-kilter airtime heading into the turnaround... ...and weird sideways airtime coming out of the turnaround. Another fast-paced low-to-the-ground turn as Untamed heads into the final stretch. One thing I should mention -- unfortunately, Untamed was only running one train on the day we visited. However, we had so much time on this photo tour that it really didn't make much of a difference. A train heads into the 270-degree stall... ...inverting into the stall... ...inverting out of the stall... ...and finishing the 270-degree stall. Another thing I love about Untamed is the design on the lead car -- some kind of weird bug thing. These are probably my favorite RMC trains. A look across the infield at the rest of the group. Untamed's infield is huge -- easily big enough to do something with. But if the park has any plans for the area, they weren't telling! More pictures of people taking pictures of coasters. Even more pictures of people taking pictures of coasters. This is the behind-the-scenes TPR content you're all here for. All you need is LOVE. A closer look at the rusted letters -- inscribed with button-copy-esque lights that probably look pretty neat at night. It's great when parks pay tribute to their old rides, and Walibi Holland did good on Robin Hood. Here's a preserved old segment for that ride in the Untamed queue, topped by one of the Robin Hood coaster cars. They rusted it up real good to make it fit the Untamed theme. Vekoma-henge? A bunch of Robin Hood track pieces were installed like some kind of art project in the Untamed queue. The "wilderness taking over" theme is pretty effective, and it will only be even more so once some of the foliage near the Untamed construction area has grown back in. Can you feel the LOVE tonight? Sideways airtime! Doing a barrel roll on the way back to the station. One more view of the first drop. Another train coming out of the 270-degree stall. Screaming or not-screaming? It really takes your breath away. More airtime near the end of the ride. No question -- this ride is a huge success. Upside down really, really close to the ground. RMCs are solid-gold crowd-pleasers, and everybody at Walibi Holland seemed to love riding it. The queue was pretty long during the day, but we'd be back for more ERT in the evening.
  11. Down from the wheel, and continuing our morning tour of the park... Here's the big drop on Crazy River, a very good log flume. (photo from 2016) Prepare for some air on the double-down. It's a small-ish splash as far as flume rides go. You'll still get a bit wet, though. This isn't Walibi Holland's only water ride -- they also have a splash battle and a rapids ride. Somehow, in both trips, I didn't get a single picture of the rapids ride. Oh well. And now, TPR takes on Crazy River. Here's boat #1, with Daniel in the front row on the backwards segment. Boat #2, with Ryan looking all confused for some reason. Boat #1 crests the lift, and prepares for their descent. Excitement on the drop! Airtime on the double-down! Hands across the water! Just slightly wet. Looks like they made it through alright. This is the worst attempt at the YMCA I've ever seen in my life. Splashing at the end of the drop. It appears Caroline is still alive but the others have fallen overboard. We'll miss the rest of you. Oh, they're still here. Well, I guess that's good. Obligatory kiddie credit coming up next. Drako is a Zierer Tivoli, so it's a decent ride as far as kiddie coasters go. (photo from 2016) The lead car looks nice! Half of our group is hanging on for dear life ... ok, then. I'm amused by the genuinely-scared people in this photo. Now we're getting more into it. Except for Colin, who has fallen dead asleep. Funny story from the 2016 trip! We broke the queue to the kiddie coaster. As in, somebody actually smashed their foot straight through a wooden plank on the walkway. I've never heard of anyone breaking a queue before. (photo from 2016) Rest assured, the park has put up a "Beware! Smooth floors" sign. (photo from 2016) So ... this is NeuroGen. I didn't go in. I just have this picture from the outside. The shortest description I can provide is that it's some kind of VR-based psychological mind-screw, but I'm always going to remember it as the thing that finally broke poor Larry. Ride logo for Tomahawk, the park's year-2000 SBF frisbee. Tomahawk is pretty old in frisbee terms, and could probably use a replacement. (photo from 2016) Spinning Vibe is a Huss Magic -- and I think the only one I've ever seen. (photo from 2016) I didn't ride in 2016, which was dumb, because everyone said it was great. I rode it in 2019, and it was a lot of fun! This picture from 2016 could almost pass for 2019, since Stacy was on both trips. The east end of the park, including Spinning Vibe, has sort of a music recording / production theme. The park was hitting that theme really hard in 2016, including developing two rival bands made up of various park mascots, but they've backed off from that a bit since then. There's also a splash battle over in this part of the park, and the kids area isn't far from here either. There's also a very IoA-inspired talking fountain. It speaks to nearby guests, perhaps taunting them to come a little closer. I don't really know for sure, because it speaks in Dutch, and I do not. As these things go, when you get too close, you get a bit wet. The kids seemed to be happy to oblige. Speed of Sound is over here as well -- and yeah, it's a Vekoma boomerang, but just look at it! (photo from 2016) It's got a guitar and giant speakers! It's also incredibly orange, and there's no way any coaster this orange could be bad, right? Well, John and Steve appear to be ... doing alright-ish. Daniel is holding his ears, and the others look to be in discomfort. Yeah, so, it's the world's best boomerang, but it's still a boomerang. Hopefully these rider reaction pictures will help you adjust your expectations. That brings us to lunch! We had a private room with a great spread of burgers, kroketten, and fruit smoothies. Before we get back to the rides, how about some scenery? Here's a nice relaxing spot near the park's central fountain. ...but what is the question? Walibi Holland has a place that sells poffertjes! I didn't get there before the end of the day to buy any. I'm sad. How about a wall full of American state license plates in a game booth? Find your home state and win a prize. Alright, let's jump into the big coasters now. Several people on the 2016 trip mentioned that Xpress: Platform 13 had an awesome queue, but I only rode the coaster during morning filming, and never saw the queue. This time, I had to see it. We'll start off with this very normal-looking subway station area. As you get further into the queue, you'll run into a bunch of old movie posters, and the atmosphere gets a little bit darker. Things go haywire as you get deeper into the station, as the queue transforms from a queue into a mini-haunt. The final area before the station is the creepiest -- dark, with occasional flashing lights and loud noises. It creates an unnerving effect as you get ready to ride. Definitely one of the more interesting coaster queues I've seen, but it's rivaled in creativity by another one in the same park. Our backstage photo tour began at Xpress: Platform 13. Launching and inverting into the sun. With the way this coaster is so wrapped up, it's hard to get good rider reaction shots. There are a few decent spots, though. "Hey, look at all those nerds with the cameras!" Another view of Xpress from across the water. Now, let's take a brief jump back to 2016... The date is June 19, 2016. TPR is getting ready for another ride on Goliath. Chuck liked it so much, he came back three years later! Goliath, still green, is framed nicely by surrounding foliage. (photo from 2016) A wide view of the Goliath lift hill, which is just about exactly one-half of a Millennium Force. (photo from 2016) A colorful shot with La Grande Roue in the background. (photo from 2016) And now, watch in amazement as green... ...turns to blue! I'm not even sure how many trains we shot pictures of on this backstage tour, but it was a lot. Gave the camera a good workout. You can get just about right underneath the first drop, so rider reactions are pretty easy. We got just about as close to the first hill as well, for those airtime (and hairtime) moments we all love. The Walibi flag at the top is a constant, and it looks great against the crisp blue sky. It is possible we weren't the only group of American enthusiasts in the park? Three people in the middle of this train are wearing coaster shirts -- Lightning Rod, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, and I think maybe Fury 325. Blue Intamin track and a guy wearing a shirt that mentions Detroit, Michigan. Am I sure I'm not at Cedar Point? Diagonal riders. Coasters and clouds. Framing this shot through the supports. A big curve heading into the ride's second half. A whole bunch of track visible from this angle. Goliath, like most Intamin rides from this era, is a "throw your hands up" fun time the whole way through. There's a pretty good angle of the Stengel dive, which I think is from a public pathway outside the park that we wandered over to. Coming out of the Stengel dive. Another support-framed picture. Catching some air on the bunny hills headed back to the station. An airtime buffet awaits. Oh, and Goliath's infield has pretty much been taken over by birds. This picture is from 2016, but they were still there in 2019. Let's hope Fabio isn't watching.
  12. Sunday, July 21, 2019 Day 10: Walibi Holland Out with the old, in with the RMC. Walibi Holland was another return visit from the 2016 trip. We enjoyed the park and its sort-of-corporate, yet sort-of-offbeat theming. I was curious to see how they'd continue down that road. I was also curious to see what became of that lousy old Vekoma woodie, Robin Hood. But first, let's back up a bit, because Walibi Holland is very different from the other parks in the Netherlands. It originally opened as an educational theme park in the 1970s, and went through some stops and starts before re-inventing itself as an amusement park in the 1990s. It also spent some time in the early 2000s as a Six Flags-branded property, under the ownership of Premier Parks. As might make sense, this was a park without the kind of well-defined identity that you'd see across the country at Efteling, for example. But as Elissa pointed out in Chuck's TR, when Efteling, Toverland, and some of the smaller parks in the Netherlands have the family demographic all wrapped up, why not go in a different direction? So, Walibi Holland has focused both their marketing and their ride selection on the thrill demographic -- young adults and teenagers. That might explain why Walibi Holland sort of feels like the most Cedar Fair / Six Flags type of park on the trip, and perhaps the closest thing to a typical coaster park. That doesn't tell the whole story, though, because Walibi Holland has really leaned into the offbeat theming. The whole park isn't quite there yet, but the areas they've focused on over the past 5 years or so have really been a refreshing look at how you can get creative with this type of park. Don't expect the immersiveness of Efteling or Phantasialand, but that's not what they're going for -- Walibi Holland is fun, quirky, and just plain different. None of this would matter if Walibi Holland didn't have the coasters to back it up, but they do. Goliath, a hold-over from the Six Flags days, is a really good Intamin mega coaster. Lost Gravity, one of the strangest things Mack has ever built, is criminally underrated. Finally, that old Vekoma woodie? It's now one of the best RMCs on the planet. That's a top 3 that I would put up against any other park in Europe, and quite honestly is better than all but a handful of US parks as well. What would I like to see for Walibi Holland's future? It might be time to add a couple of high-end flats, with the coaster collection in such good (if top-heavy) shape. Perhaps a giant frisbee to replace the old Tomahawk? I do find it interesting that they've got fantastic coasters by Intamin, Mack, RMC, and of course the local Vekoma, but not a single B&M as of yet. Also, while I don't mind the park layout as much as some others have said, the Goliath dead-end is kind of a chore. Would love to see them find a way to sneak a path from the Goliath plaza to somewhere near the exit of the rapids ride. Regardless of this, a quick look at the map would indicate they should have plenty of room to expand, and you know whatever they do next is going to be interesting. How was our day? Fantastic. We met up with Walibi Holland's Scott Bravenboer and Marco Wensveen, who'd be spending quite a bit of time with us during the visit. We started right off with filming/ERT sessions on Goliath, Untamed, and Lost Gravity -- multiple rides on the best coasters in the park before it had even opened for business for the day. Before turning us loose for the morning, we all received personalized gift packages and postcards, which are among the most unique and thoughtful things I've ever received on a TPR trip. We had a group lunch in the early afternoon, followed by a lengthy backstage photo tour of Xpress, Goliath, and Untamed. We then went back to Untamed for another ERT session after the park closed. All of that said, AJ put it best when describing the day's real highlight... If you don't know what NeuroGen is, well ... ask Larry, because I still don't know either. But I do know that Walibi Holland is pretty great, and we had a fantastic day. Ride reviews! Untamed: It's not as grandiose as Steel Vengeance, and it's not as scenic as Wildfire, but this is probably RMC's best-paced coaster. The arrangement of elements is just about perfect, and avoids the repetition that keeps Storm Chaser and Twisted Timbers a little lower on my rankings. The ride's brand-new element, the 270-degree double inverting stall, is epic RMC weirdness at its best. With how much I love Outlaw Run, I'm glad to see they borrowed a ride-ending barrel roll for this one too. There's lots of airtime, lots of quick turns, and lots of sideways / overbanked weirdness. The theming is pretty wild, as well -- it's like nature taking over, if nature was informed by younger-Millennial / Gen-Z social media culture. Really hard to describe, but it mostly works, and it's almost as fun as the coaster. to see some of the fun we were having! Lost Gravity: Mack's first "Big Dipper" coaster, it's a remarkably unique attraction with virtually no fitting comparison to any other coaster on the planet. There are other coaster types that try to do weird things with small coasters and small ride vehicles, such as the S&S El Loco and Gerstlauer Eurofighter models. Mack seems to have taken that idea and made it better and weirder in just about every way. Lost Gravity is smoother, more creative, and more re-ridable. It's a crazy mix of airtime, hangtime, intensity, and crazy twists and inversions. Throw in Walibi Holland's masterfully-bizarre theming (which I'll cover in the pictures) and you've got an awesome ride. Goliath: Somewhere between a hyper and a mega-lite, Goliath is a very nice Intamin. Built in that same era as Millennium Force, Superman (SFNE), and Expedition GeForce, it's got many of Intamin's classic elements -- airtime hills, curvy bits, an emphasis on speed, and a Stengel dive. Whether painted green or blue, this coaster is a lot of fun. The middle segment is more good than great, and perhaps it's just me, but I felt like it kept its speed up better in 2016 than it did in 2019. Those are just minor issues, though. Intamin made a good one. Xpress: Platform 13: Xpress has sort of been shunted down the list as Walibi Holland's fourth-best coaster, but it's a pretty good ride. It's also one just about everyone should be familiar with -- it's a mostly-outdoor clone of Disney World's Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. The launch and the first few elements are a lot of fun, though it kind of meanders later on, and the ride's second half isn't as exciting without Steven Tyler and a miniaturized Hollywood sign. The queue and the indoor portion are really well themed, and the little surprise after the brake run might just be the best part. Speed of Sound: I'm pretty comfortable calling this the world's best Vekoma boomerang, but that still means it's a Vekoma boomerang. Walibi Holland has done everything they can to improve the experience, though, including a massive re-theme in 2011 as an electronic-music-themed ride with fun visuals and on-board audio. It's got the newer vest restraints, and as far as boomerangs go, it's on the younger side (originally opened in 2000). It's a vastly superior ride to... El Condor: This is a piece of coaster history -- the first-ever Vekoma SLC. It would probably be better for everyone involved if it were left to the history books. I rode it in 2016, and saw no need to ride it again. It's bad. However, that didn't stop Joey Schadenberg from riding El Condor over and over again to raise money for charity. I think he ended up with over 200 rides. and it's quite entertaining. Crazy River: Yet another fun log flume at a European park, and yet another one with a reversing segment and two drops. The double-down on the big drop is a nice touch. Tomahawk: An inward-facing SBF frisbee installed in 2000. It's pretty small, it takes a while to really get swinging, and it doesn't swing very high even when it does. It's no match for the newer Huss and Zamperla frisbees. Merlin's Magic Castle: It's a Vekoma Mad House. It was formerly housed in a castle-type building painted like a castle. Now it's housed in a castle-type building painted in graffiti. The magic theme works well for a ride system built on illusion. Walibi Express: The park's train ride -- it's unfortunately kind of short, and doesn't offer many views that you can't get from the walkways. Still, it's better to have a train than to not have a train. Vlot: It's a raft! We had a thing with rafts on this trip. Not the first, and won't be the last. Stay tuned. ---------------------------------- Pictures are below. As with the last few reports, I'll mix in a few from the 2016 trip along the way. We have arrived at Walibi Holland! Marco passes out our personalized gift packages, while Scott models the classic #HARDGAAN slogan on one of the best theme park shirts ever created. Here's my personalized postcard! I will have to ask Daniel and Barry if screaming is an approved part of "the method." We'd soon be headed to Untamed for some morning filming ... but I'll save those pictures for later. We'll start this photo set up front, on Walibi's very strange take on a theme park "main street." In 2016, the main street area was sort of a half-assed version of a traditional main street, and it wasn't very convincing. The new version (complete with a grass-covered Cadillac) is definitely way out there, and a better fit for Walibi Holland's overall park theme. This giant typewriter keyboard is one of the new additions. Ryan, David, and Stacy are spelling out "RTP" ... oh, now I get it. Walibi Holland's best kept secret is just past the main "Hall of Fame" building. This is the Oliebollerie. Oliebollen are traditional Belgian/Dutch fried beignets. They're served hot, sprinkled in powdered sugar, and they're ridiculously good. If you aren't getting one or two of these for breakfast at Walibi Holland, you're doing it wrong. They also serve up waffles and chocolate-covered bananas and apples, if that's more your thing. Walibi Holland's antique car ride, Le Tour Des Jardins, has been transformed into Le Tour Des Speed Dates. It's another one of Walibi Holland's thematic decisions that I'm not really sure I understand, but that I'm nonetheless incredibly amused by. Really, the only change was some added signage at the ride's entrance. It's still a pretty typical antique car ride through a very nice section of the park. Some TPR friends on another car... ...and even the park's Walibi mascot is taking a spin! Who said wallabies can't drive? A nice fountain and a large Ferris wheel -- La Grande Roue. I didn't get to ride the wheel in 2016, so it was a high priority this time. I'll start the aerial views with a look at the park entrance. Airtime on Lost Gravity! Words can't describe how quick this drop is. It's an intense moment. Just over there to the left is El Condor... ...which I will not be riding ever again. Xpress: Platform 13's twisted mess of track is visible... ...as is the big lift hill on Goliath, now painted in a very Millennium Force shade of blue. The Stengel dive from a distance. Looking north at the rest of the park, including the brand-new Untamed. Just below the wheel is ... a raft. I have decided that every theme park needs a self-operated raft. There's also no way that would fly in the US. Untamed is a beautiful coaster, and the Dutch countryside is an outstanding backdrop. Flags at the top of the lift. Proof that I have not yet exhausted this trip report's supply of wind turbine pictures.
  13. Any report with Sweden is a good report, and I think I'm going to have to get to Denmark and Norway one of these years too.
  14. Yes -- more stroopwafels!!! Yep, that all sounds about right to me. The coaster had already been closed for two years when I went there in 2016, so I didn't even get a credit out of the deal.
  15. Honestly I do too now! I looked at it a bit online and it looks really cool inside. Well, next time I'm gonna have to check out the Vondelpark. We can trade itineraries! Yep -- and it's not like I even went that far off the beaten path, perhaps aside from that "art" installation under the bridge. But honestly I could just walk around random neighborhoods and parks in these old European cities for hours and never get bored. About the same time you publish yours from Krakow.
  16. Sandusky is home to a historic Cholera Cemetary from the mid-1800s, so you're kinda correct!
  17. Saturday, July 20, 2019 Amsterdam: Part 4 My last trip report segment ended with our departure from Toverland, as we narrowly escaped some thunderstorms. With the weather all cleared up, we got back to Amsterdam in the late afternoon, with an opportunity for one more trip into the city. This time, I wasn't going to be wandering aimlessly. I had two places to go, both of which were planned out as high priorities before the trip had even begun. We'll start, as usual, at the central station. To say the weather was nice would be an understatement -- of my four trips into Amsterdam, this was by far the best. Rowing a boat is one way to travel in Amsterdam. Another is by tram / streetcar. This was my first time using the tram system in Amsterdam. It's not particularly fast, but it's better than walking if you've got a ways to go. I took the tram to the Westerkerk, making yet another appearance in this trip report. Two days prior, they didn't have any open slots for tower climbs that were going to work for my schedule. You can see people on the outdoor platform of the Westertoren, to get an idea of where the tower climb tours end up. Also, the Westertoren's big crown up top is a defining feature. It's actually the Imperial Crown of Austria of Maximilian I. The tower tours are inexpensive -- only €9 per person. The problem is that each tour only allows six people. Six is a very small number. Was I going to get in? Yes, I was! I got either the last or second-to-last slot for the final tour of the day. It's a long way to the top, and it all starts through this door. It gets ... steep. Steep and spiraly. There are several stops at landings along the way up, where you can see some of the inner workings of the tower. The bells are of greatest importance -- not surprising, since it's a church tower. Not only are these bells on display, but the tour guide actually invites you to tap on them to hear them ring. Some of the bells date back to the 1600s, cast by the Hemony brothers. This is a 17th century baton keyboard, which was an instrument originally used to play the bells of the Carillon. The inside of the tower is an interesting mix of brick and wood. The stairways just get steeper as you get further up. Finally, just below the outdoor platform, you find this huge swinging bell -- it's probably 5 or 6 feet across. One more stairway above this bell, and you're at the top. Duck through one more doorway, and you're on top of Amsterdam! The city's insignia on the side of the Westertoren. One little problem -- they only allow 10 minutes on the outdoor platform before you have to begin the trip down. 10 minutes isn't a lot of time when you take as many pictures as I do. I had to work quickly. I'll share some of my favorites from another nice view over Amsterdam. It's much different from the A'DAM Toren, where you're way north of the central part of the city. Here, you're basically right atop the canals -- and you can look down at the boats as they pass by. A bridge below the Westertoren. The open area in front of the church is the Westermarkt, and this bridge carries the Rozengracht road west from there. Houseboats on the canal. Looking northwest, and enjoying the view of the canal houses about as far as the eye can see. In this picture: pedestrians, bikes, boats. Not in this picture: cars. Do the Dutch lead the world in interesting buildings? They just might. Looking north, toward the A'DAM Toren. You can really see the swings in action from this angle. The round dome of the Koepelkerk, a former Lutheran church building. A wide view east toward the center of the city. Here's one big advantage to doing an evening tour with clear skies -- with the sun to the west, and the central part of the city to the east, everything was lit up perfectly. There's the central station... ...and the old Basilica of Saint Nicholas, backed by a modern Movenpick hotel. More fun with architectural contrast. The steeple of De Oude Kerk. Looking into the very center of Amsterdam. You can see the tops of De Nieuwe Kerk and Magna Plaza in this picture... ...and the Royal Palace and the Magna Plaza tower in this one. A wide view southeast. This cluster of skyscrapers is part of a business district about 5 miles south of downtown Amsterdam on the Amstel River. The tallest one, on the left, is the Rembrandttoren -- named after the famous Dutch painter. Here's the view south on this amazing July evening. Another big church... ...another weird building. The Rijksmuseum makes another appearance... ...as does the Zuidas business district. Like many big European cities, the tallest of the modern skyscrapers are kept away from the historic downtown core. Oh, and perhaps this is one of those storms we skipped out on after we left Toverland. A little cloud porn to end the photo set. We climbed down the tower, and I chatted a bit with the guide, who was hoping to visit some theme parks in the US at some point in the near future. I hope she made it! With that, I was off to my second destination. No, my second destination was not Phantasialand -- nor was it on the agenda for the trip. I'm just going to take this opportunity to note that Temple of the Night Hawk is so incredibly terrible that it may be the only coaster on the planet that VR actually improves. Instead, it was back on the tram to head a little further west. Ryan S had also headed into Amsterdam to visit a museum, and we agreed to meet up here later in the evening. Here's our destination -- a place called Foodhallen. Can you guess what kind of place it is? Yep, if I'm not at a theme park or climbing to some kind of high point, I'm visiting a food hall. And this one was /spectacular/. It's obviously not the architectural marvel that Rotterdam's Markthal is, but I actually preferred the restaurant selection here. Quite a lively atmosphere, too -- it was a Saturday evening and the place was absolutely packed. Once we found a seat upstairs, Ryan and I took turns getting small orders from a bunch of different places around the hall. Tapas, Vietnamese, burgers, Chinese, tacos, pizza, sandwiches, desserts -- it was hard to decide. Bicycle-as-a-decoration is very Amsterdam. Foodhallen isn't as well known as other attractions in Amsterdam, perhaps because it's not right in the center of the city, nor is it along one of the Metro lines. It's well worth taking a tram (or a long walk) and checking out, though. It's one of my favorite food halls that I've been to anywhere. Maybe don't go on Saturday night, though. With that, we hopped on a tram, then hopped on the Metro, and got back to the hotel. Another big day of coastering was coming up. That's the end of Part 4 ... and the end of all the Amsterdam stuff.
  18. Thursday, July 18, 2019 Amsterdam: Part 3 OK, now back in the 2019 timeline, Part 3 is actually going to jump a couple days before where we left off -- to right before we went to Efteling. Our official meet-up to leave for Efteling was in the early afternoon, which provided a few hours in the morning to either catch up on sleep ... or go out and be tourists. Sleep is for the weak. Let's get out and see the city. And we'll start with something quite a bit different. I didn't jump on the train this time. Instead, I walked east, out of the Bijlmer ArenA area and into a quieter residential area. This is an area called the Bijlmermeer -- a very diverse neighborhood in the southeast part of Amsterdam. I happened to come across a bit of art. Wait, is that... Yep. It's exactly what it looks like. This art installation, if I can call it that, is on a canal underneath a road overpass. It's called Tayouken Piss -- or Les Pisseurs d'Amsterdam. It was installed in 2009-2010 by Cameroonian artist Pascale Marthine Tayou. There's literally nothing else I can possibly say about this very creative artistic masterpiece, so hopefully the pictures have told the story. OK, at the risk of mood whiplash from the insane to the somber, my next stop was at a memorial. To be specific, it's a memorial for a major aviation incident -- the crash of El Al Flight 1862. The descriptor here is all in Dutch, but the key is to look at the shape of the buildings on the map. The plane (a cargo flight on a Boeing 747) crashed into two of the apartment towers, with their former locations shown in red hatching on the map. The impact into the apartment buildings caused the towers to collapse, and at least 43 people died. This includes the small number of crew on the flight. "On Sunday evening, October 4, 1992, at six thirty past six, an El Al Boeing 747 cargo plane crashed into the flats at Groeneveen and Kruitberg - a memorial to this monument around 'the tree that saw everything'." The tree in question -- seen a few pics above -- survived the crash and was made the centerpiece of the monument. The names of some of those who died in the crash. These concrete troughs and waterways mark the location of the former apartment towers that were impacted by the crash. Walking a little further, here's another apartment building -- perhaps what one of those towers may have looked like at ground level. A mosque next to the nearby metro station. And since I'm here, let's head up to the metro and take the trip into downtown. We've returned to central Amsterdam for another round of fun and games. This license plate is quite on-the-nose for Amsterdam, isn't it? De Dokwerker -- a memorial statue for the strike against German occupying forces in February 1941. A common sign of Amsterdam's friendliness to the LGBTQ community. So many canals, and so many boats. I was amused to see this one, with Efteling's advertising all over it. The re-tracked Python gets some love on the back of this canal boat. SFMM, take note. Bridges! Ornate lamp posts! The building in the background here is the Stopera -- Amsterdam's combined City Hall / opera house. I'd probably be more willing to do another boat tour if it were on a smaller, open-air boat like this. With a little bit of sun, Amsterdam looks quite nice. Boats and cars lined up along the canals. The Munttoren -- a guard tower that was a part of the city's old fortifications. Yeah, I had to walk back through the touristy area again, but while I'm in the neighborhood... ...yep, another Stroopwafel. Worth it. Always worth it. So, I was heading back to the Westerkerk, which I saw briefly in 2016. At some point between then and 2019, I realized that you could actually climb a lot of old church towers in Europe -- including this one! But this one didn't do appointments in advance, and when I stopped by, they didn't have any openings for a couple hours. That wouldn't have gotten me back to the TPR meetup in time, so I had to pass... for now... Kind of a funny looking statue of Dutch writer Eduard Douwes Dekker -- who went by the pen name Multatuli. Multatuli is Latin for "I have suffered much." Real life of the party kinda stuff here. Canals and big domes. More neat old architecture near the center of the city. Magna Plaza -- the former Amsterdam Main Post Office. It's now a shopping mall. Regardless of its current use, it's a fantastic late-1800s neo-gothic / neo-renaissance building. The crowds were out again on Dam Square... ...under the dome of the Royal Palace. Just passing through Dam Square this time, though. Headed east -- and passing De Oude Kerk (The Old Church). It's Amsterdam's oldest building, dating in part back to 1213. Out on the water on the northeast part of downtown. Some very large boats docked out on the IJ. A row of buildings along the waterfront... ...including Amsterdam's main public library. Remember this big weird-looking green thing that I saw from the A'DAM Toren? This is the NEMO Science Museum. No, I wasn't going to actually go in the museum, but the huge outdoor terrace looked like it was worth visiting. The museum was established in 1923, and has been housed in this unique-looking building since 1997. Looks like my nice sunny morning was starting to go away... ...but there's still time for some more photography. That's the central station, viewed from a bit of a distance. Boats in the foreground, and the Basilica of Saint Nicholas in the background. Sciencey things at the entrance to the museum. But I'm heading up to the terrace, which is open to the public. Easy to get up top -- a big staircase leads the way. A freeway tunnel goes underneath the museum, and continues under the IJ, emerging on the north side of the water. It's really quite a novel setup -- a science museum, a public terrace, and a road tunnel all sort of built on top of each other. Getting up to the top. The seating area at the top. There's also a restaurant / cafe up here. You can look down and see small boats... ...and large boats! The city skyline is dotted with steeples and spires... ...like these two. A view west over the water, looking toward the central station. Here's the Scheepvaarthuis again. Another view of the Basilica of Saint Nicholas. Pedestrian bridges down below. Further off in the distance, the A'DAM Toren. ...and they built swings that go out over the edge of the tower. Those were definitely not there in 2016! Back at ground level, and starting to run out of time... ...so I crossed these bridges on my way back toward the central station. Another look at the buildings and ships on the water. A final glance back at NEMO. On the waterfront near the public library, the other tall buildings, and a huge Chinese restaurant. Somewhere around here, I stopped at a restaurant called Pippers -- "home of the mini sandwich." Exactly like it says -- they specialize in tiny sandwiches, small enough that you can order two or three. I ordered two to go, as time was running short. A sign advertising the Future Cities expo in Amsterdam, which is also probably the only time Avenged Sevenfold is ever going to appear in one of my trip reports. Bikes everywhere! Alright, there's the entrance to the Metro station... ...so I headed down into the station, found /all/ of the ticket machines were broken, and had to run another block away to the station's other entrance. I had a train I needed to catch. You don't ever want to risk missing the TPR bus. (I made with a good 10-15 minutes to spare) With that, we were off to Efteling, and then Toverland. You've already heard those stories. So we'll move on to the final Amsterdam adventure...
  19. Day Whatever: Amsterdam-dam-dam-dam After we departed Toverland on the afternoon of July 20th, we got back to Amsterdam early enough to head into the city for the evening. I certainly wasn't going to waste an opportunity to get out and see some stuff while I'm in Europe. But this trip report isn't just going to cover the evening of July 20, 2019. Between the 2016 and 2019 TPR trips, this was actually my fourth chance to head into Amsterdam for some sightseeing. So, this seems like the best spot in the TR to shoehorn in all four visits to Amsterdam. I do really like Amsterdam, though it's not my favorite of the big European cities I've visited. I definitely enjoyed it a bit more once I got away from the big crowds in the city's touristy central area, and focused in on some of the things I like to see when I'm traveling. If you liked some of the early pages of this TR, you'll like this one too. If not, well, there will be more coaster photos next time around. We'll start all the way back at... Saturday, June 18, 2016 Amsterdam: Part 1 Our 2016 trip had just finished up a visit to Efteling, and we headed north to Amsterdam, staying at the same Courtyard Marriott as we did on the 2019 trip. We had a free afternoon/evening, and most (if not all) of the group went into Amsterdam. This was far from my favorite visit to Amsterdam, but it got some of the touristy stuff out of the way. Background: the Courtyard Marriott, TPR's official hotel in Amsterdam. Foreground: one of the trains heading through the station. We hopped on one of the metro lines and went north into the city. We went to Dam Square, the main public square in Amsterdam. It was crowded. We went to the Amsterdam Dungeon, a Merlin attraction that is one-part haunt, one-part performance art, one-part mirror maze, one-part historical lesson. I didn't hate it, but this isn't really my thing. Walked down to the Bloemenmarkt, the very touristy set of flower shops on one of the canals. Tulip bulbs? Wooden shoes? Buy up all your little Amsterdam trinkets. Or, buy this. Because if there's one thing Amsterdam's good at merchandising -- maybe even more so than tulips -- it's weed. At this point I wasn't exactly loving my time in Amsterdam, but that was all about to change pretty quickly. See, this here is the first fresh Stroopwafel I ever had in my life -- though we'd been introduced to the packaged variety by TPR veteran E.B. a couple days earlier. Needless to say, this was a game-changer. Stroopwafels are the Netherlands' finest creation. Walked on down to another touristy spot -- the Magere Brug on the Amstel River. It's one of those classic-looking old bascule bridges you see around the Netherlands -- including in my previous trip report from Leiden. For whatever reason, the Magere Brug is one of Amsterdam's most famous bridges. We walked through a bunch more streets that kind of looked like this. Bars after bars after coffee shops after coffee shops. Combined with the gloomy weather, it wasn't really what I wanted to see. We finished off the trip with a canal boat ride. Look closely at the orange boat on the left for a funny. Ah yes, this is how I want to see Amsterdam -- through the smudged glass of a packed boat. Thankfully, we got seats on the boat's back deck, which was open-air. Here's a view as we departed the main canal boat dock by Amsterdam's Central Station. Won't be the last time this building shows up in the TR. We cruised the canals, we crossed under some cool bridges, and I took a lot of horrible photographs in the fading light of the evening. Let's move on. Sunday, June 19, 2016 Amsterdam: Part 2 The next day on the 2016 trip, we went to Walibi Holland, and had a lot of fun filming on Goliath, Lost Gravity, and Robin Hood. Well, maybe not so much fun on that last one. Robin Hood was pretty rough. I wonder if they'd ever consider... ...but anyway, we left the park in the mid afternoon, with enough time to head back into the city for a few hours. This time, I went on a solo venture, and decided to check out some new destinations. Opposite view from the first picture of the last segment! This one is from the Courtyard hotel, looking down at the train station. This funky building behind the station is Het Zandkasteel -- formerly the headquarters of ING, the big financial company. Dutch architecture is cool. Now in the city, here's another neat building -- the Scheepvaarthuis. It has nothing to do with sheep -- Scheepvaarthuis translates to "Shipping House." It's about 100 years old, and a classic example of the Amsterdam School of architecture. The view of the front of the central station, and yet another boat in the canal. This time, I'd be headed elsewhere. I walked around to the back side of the central station, looking across the IJ. "IJ" is the name of the body of water. In Dutch, "IJ" is a digraph, which means both letters behave as a single letter. Now you know! Across the IJ is the A'DAM Toren. It's really the only tall building on the north side of the IJ. On top of the A'DAM Toren? A giant open-air observation deck. Guess where I'm headed? To get there, I walked over to the back side of the central station, under the big arched ceiling. Hmm, why are some of the panels colored in? You'll see soon. It's easy to get across the IJ -- just hop on one of these ferry boats. To the best of my knowledge, this was a free ferry. If not, then I stole a ride. Sorry, Amsterdam. In an earlier TR segment, I mentioned how you'd see peoples' cars parked on top of their boats as they sailed around the Benelux. Here's a great example of that. Also, big touristy letters. A must for the instagrammy folks out there. CLIMBING THESE LETTERS IS AT OWN RISK. Some people are all about taking risks. As for me, I've got my sights set a little higher. Inside the A'DAM Toren, there's a neat little scale model of the city -- with its concentric array of canals. Riding up the elevator shaft to the top! ...but if this is actually a picture of riding /down/ the elevator shaft, I bet no one will ever know... Standing atop the A'DAM Toren. The platform is about 80 meters high. It was not very busy. The entire top of the A'DAM Toren is fenced in, which is tough for photography. They had just one camera hole on each side -- that was fine for three of the sides, but some dude was doing a time lapse or something on the side facing the city, and I had to get by with trying to get the lens positioned just right to avoid the fencing. Anyway, on to the views. Here's a look east along the IJ. This is where the ferry lets off near the A'DAM Toren. Remember those colored panels on the ceiling of the central station? It spells out Amsterdam! This is exciting. To be honest, you're a little far from the core of the city to see a whole lot. Off in the distance, this is Zuidas -- a quickly developing modern business district a couple miles south of downtown Amsterdam. It's sort of like a smaller version of La Défense in Paris. You can get a look at some of the taller buildings in the center of Amsterdam. The one with the green top is one of the city's most important -- the Royal Palace of Amsterdam (Koninklijk Paleis van Amsterdam). This funky looking green building caught my eye. I might just have to check it out in 2019... Further views from the A'DAM Toren include more water, more boats, and more cool buildings. Looking west along the IJ. The North Sea is out there somewhere. It's not as big of a port as near Rotterdam, but it's still a pretty busy shipping area. BOTEL. It's a boat, and it's a hotel. I get it. Even further off in the distance, a plane lands at Schiphol. I waited a while up there to see if the sun would break through and improve some of these gloomy aerial views, but that didn't happen until /after/ I got back down to ground level, because of course. So, let's head back down to the dumb touristy letters. Along the IJ, people fish. And then the sun does come out, illuminating the mix of buildings along the water. It's really quite the mix of old and new -- perhaps this picture tells the story the best. I don't think I've ever seen this many bikes in one place. One last look across the water at the A'DAM Toren. The building to its left is the EYE Film Institute museum. We're back in central Amsterdam, but this time, I headed a few blocks west of the touristy center of the city, where things were much quieter and much more to my liking. I sought out this very understated landmark near one of the bridges -- it's the engraved white thing near the center of the photo. This is the last remaining original benchmark placed by order of Lord Mayor of Amsterdam Johannes Hudde in 1683. It's essentially the standard by which elevation is measured in the Netherlands. In short, this benchmark shows sea level -- which the canals in Amsterdam are well below. I continued walking south, enjoying the view of the canals, and passing the Anne Frank House -- which had a line at least an entire city block long to get in. The setting sun hit this arch bridge just right. A look up at the large church known as Westerkerk. That's a pretty tall tower. Might have to climb it someday. Near the Westerkerk is the Homomonument. In the words of the monument: "Commemorates all women and men ever oppressed and persecuted because of their homosexuality. Supports the international lesbian and gay movement in their struggle against contempt, discrimination, and oppression. Demonstrates that we are not alone. Calls for permanent vigilance." The monument is, in part, a triangle built out over the water of one of the canals. It was heavily adorned, and for a very particular reason. This visit was on June 19, 2016. Exactly one week prior was the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. The candles, flowers, and notes were a sign of support and solidarity -- from the Dutch (and their visitors) to those affected by the awful situation in Florida. As I continued southward, I noted just how close these cars are parked to the edge of the canal. The moon rises as the light begins to fade... I passed by the Rijksmuseum -- the Dutch national history and art museum, said to be the city's most visited. Actually, I passed /under/ the Rijksmuseum, because a walking / bike path cuts right through the center of it. Oh look, more touristy letters at the Rijksmuseum. This picture is for all the TPR members who won't go to Holiday World because they don't serve alcohol. A pleasant evening scene on the waters of Amsterdam. After a long walk, I found my way back to the Amsterdam Metro. Well, I guess I'll take the stairs. Back at the Bijlmer ArenA station at the end of the night. Heading down... ...and back up to the hotel. That's it for 2016, but there's more to come.
  20. Barry finished that ropes course off like a champ! And anyone even brave enough to attempt it -- with half the rest of the group watching -- deserves a tip of the hat. Please! These should be everywhere! Why are there only two in North America? This caption is far superior to whatever I came up with.
  21. Our Toverland adventure continues... How about some more ways to injure yourself? Barry's going to try out the rope swing. Daniel is a little more comfortable with it. Kristen's probably done this once or twice before. Moving over to the older building, here's a view from way up high -- looking down at the loading station for the Vekoma junior coaster. (2016) I took these pictures from the platform that houses the park's wet-dry slides. When I rode one down in 2016, I remember getting ... a little wetter than I'd intended. (2016) Underneath the coaster is the Toverhuis: "where little witches and young wizards discover their magic powers." It's an interactive walkthrough attraction, with magic wands that you can use to activate various effects. So, here's the last coaster of the day -- Toos-Express. I rode it in 2016 as Boomerang, but no, Daniel, it doesn't count as a second credit just because they changed the name. Proof that my friends have checked another stupid box on their stupid checklist. Expedition Zork is a really funny name for a log flume. It used to be called Backstroke, which makes sense, since it spends a good chunk of the ride going backwards! (2016) A log of anxious guests exits the log flume station... ...with a TPR boat right behind them. Thankfully, we didn't break the flume -- but somebody did. Expedition Zork had multiple backups on the lift hill, leading to downtime at various points of the day. Another TPR group gets flumed. The ride's first drop is a short one in the indoor section, but it's not just size that matters -- it goes backwards! Trying to catch rider reactions on a backwards-moving drop is pretty tricky. Nonetheless, I had some success. When I look at this picture, and everything in it, I just think ... man, what a weird, messed up, awesome place. A /third/ group of TPR riders is on the flume, and they're making a splash. Meanwhile, these guys are kicking up quite a bit of water. You're only halfway done, though... ...because this flume takes its second half outside! (2016) Expedition Zork has a much larger, forward-facing drop outdoors. (2016) Big log flume drops are always great for some reaction shots... ...and also great to catch the splash at 1/1000 sec. Ducking your head completely under the log is ... an interesting strategy. A wall of water emerges. And when the splash has cleared... ...the two children were nowhere to be found. Toverland: it's magic. TPR log #1 hits the bottom of the drop, as Troy looks on in the background. For Andrew, Andrew, and Chris ... hopefully an acceptable amount of wetness. It's a long way down from here. Choose your emotion: screaming, or cringing? That moment where only the hands are visible. Absolutely swamped. Ow, right in the face! ...you OK, Daniel? (he was ok) (i think) The last group makes the climb up the lift. Everybody smile and say "Zork!" They kicked up some water. But it looks like it was enjoyable. "Now get me off this thing, I'm hungry!" At lunch time, we headed back to Avalon to visit the park's newest restaurant -- located inside this lovely little green-roofed shack. It's called The Flaming Feather! Here's the inside -- quite nice, in my opinion. I ordered the Merlin's Plate, which is a bit of a random assortment of things. Probably needed another item or two to be a full lunch. The Magische Vallei (Magic Valley) section of Toverland is one area I didn't have time to explore at all in 2019. Thankfully, I did explore it a bit in 2016, so I'll share some pictures from then. This is the park's rapids ride, called Djengu River. (2016) It's a very well-landscaped rapids ride, though it doesn't look particularly thrilling -- or wet. (2016) This is a really interesting picture, in retrospect. See the open area behind the rapids trough? That's where Solaris now stands -- the centerpiece of Port Laguna. (pic from 2016) On Djengu River, you might run into a few trolls. (2016) Near Djengu River, there's also an extensive area of hidden pathways, rockwork, and waterfalls. If you want, you can even brave some pathways that the water falls right on top of. (2016) Yep, I went through here. Yep, I got a bit wet. (2016) The Magic Valley area sits right in between Avalon, Port Laguna, and the indoor sections of the park. There are dry ways to get from Point A to Point B, but where's the fun in that? (2016) Booster Bike marks the southern boundary of Magic Valley, with the log flume and big outdoor pond play area also nearby. (2016) On this busy day in 2016, kids cooled off in the water while watching coasters go soaring past. (2016) Booster Bike flies over the lush landscape of Toverland. (2016) It's so lush, I even found a frog in a pond over near Troy! (2016) Want to jump around on a bouncy thing? Have at it! Sorry Kristen, but Daniel's really catching some air. And now, we come to the ropes course. The one obstacle course at Toverland that's actually so dangerous they do strap you in. (2016) It's set up about 20-25 feet above ground level, and there's a plethora of challenges to tackle. I think it's about 10-12 different elements. (2016) If you're bold, charge on ahead like Daniel. If you're not as bold, perhaps take a moment to collect yourself on the big cargo net. ...Barry, I said collect yourself. I don't think you're doing this right, Barry. Ooh, nice recovery. Now, we'll watch Barry as he continues to tackle the challenge of the Ropes Course, as I attempt to photograph him doing so with various other rides artistically placed in the background. Barry travels across the swinging plank things. He's found some confidence as he heads out on the tightrope! See, this doesn't seem so bad... ...woah there, watch your step! Finishing up on the giant log-o'-death. Great job, Barry. I promise nobody's going to judge you for falling off the cargo net. So, with the Ropes course having taken up a bit of time, we had less than an hour to go. Some people went back for another ride on Troy, but with one train ops and a decent line, I decided to get a few more pics of Fenix. Fenix is a very photogenic ride with a plethora of fantastic photo angles -- I'm only scratching the surface in this trip report. However, Fenix wouldn't be the only thing catching my eye behind the camera. The clouds were starting to look a bit stormy. We'd known that thunderstorms -- possibly strong storms -- were in the forecast. Would our 4PM departure get us out in time? As Fenix continues to soar, we'd soon have an answer to that question. But first, a few more views of this very attractive B&M wing coaster... ...and the awesome theming that surrounds it. It's a sword. In a stone. We've all heard that story. A quick glimpse of Fenix through the trees. The overall color and design is very similar to Gatekeeper, but better. Also, I really want to stop mentioning Gatekeeper, because Gatekeeper sucks. More fun on Fenix, as we head to the end of the course. Yes, there is actual airtime on Fenix! Spiraling into an inversion, in that weird wing coaster way. What do you call this element without a keyhole? Is it just a barrel roll? Fenix and Merlin's Quest -- Toverland's newest rides. So, just 15 minutes to departure, what do I see looking north from the far end of Avalon? Well I'll be -- I've gone storm chasing in the Netherlands! That's a wall cloud. To be clear, "wall cloud" refers to this lowering of the cloud base. The main part of the thunderstorm was to its right. Was a tornado about to form? Were we in imminent danger? The answer to both questions is no -- I saw no signs of rotation, and the storm was moving northeast -- away from us. Still, it was likely a very strong storm, and some unlucky rural area further north of Venlo was probably in for it. Coasters and weather, together! One last view of the wall cloud, and with just ten minutes until 4PM, it's time for a sprint to the bus -- you do not want to be late! A final look at Troy as the storm rolls on behind it. Could I have used another hour or two at Toverland? Sure. But as you'll see in the next update, I ended up having a very productive evening. So, see ya later TROY!, and see ya later, storm clouds. We're done at Toverland. Onward to Amsterdam! Like so many other sections of Toverland, it's one big water-filled obstacle course. (2016)
  22. As the Toverland pictures begin, we find our TPR group searching for the park's new entrance... Welkom in Toverland! The entrance is that way, and it's ... not where it used to be. So, flashback time! In this 2016 photo, you'll see a massive group of same-shirted school children, all lined up to enter the park. Here's where they were going to be entering -- the original Toverland entrance at the south end of the main building. (2016) But in 2019? No kids on the path. No queuing to get into the building. In 2019, the entrance is here -- the main gate of Port Laguna. Welcome! Port Laguna is the park's big new entrance area, and it contains everything you'd expect to find in an entrance area. Restrooms, guest services, shops, etc. The Solaris tower is now one of the park's landmarks. It almost feels cliche to mention it, since literally every single Toverland trip report since Port Laguna opened has mentioned it, but there's an obvious IoA vibe here. It's also got a bit of a water park vibe, which I'm totally OK with. There's a small stage area somewhere over here. I think they do shows up on that pirate ship. Nothing going on right now, though -- we're in the park before it's actually open. And here's the reason why -- we're on our way for some early morning rides on Fenix! Check out the sword in the stone -- perfectly lined up with Fenix's Gatekeerer-esque elements behind it. This is the big reveal you get when you first enter Avalon, and it's brilliant. Yep, it's called Fenix. Looking for the entrance to Fenix? It's somewhere around this whimsical looking tower. Here's the actual entrance -- though you go to the left, not through the round hobbit-esque door. Fenix's queue and station are fantastic works of art. Toverland really stepped up their game with this. They aren't just looking up to Efteling -- they're saying "hey, we can do it too." So, I think I rode Fenix five times in total. Fenix slots in at #3 out of the 6 or 7 wing coasters I've been on. Most of the group got probably 2-4 rides on Fenix. Here's Colin taking what may be a solo ride! As AJ noted in his TR, I got one as well. There are some past TPR trips in which people have intentionally queued up 10-20 minutes for solo rides during ERT sessions, and I got one on Fenix purely by accident. Fenix rides high -- and you can see one of the Merlin's Quest boats underneath it. Coming through one of the inversions. That's all for Fenix from the morning session, but there will be a few more Fenix pictures near the end. And now, it's off to the next attraction, and we're going to get there in classic Toverland style: by running perilously like children across swinging bridges. Oh, the crazy Toverland fun was just getting started. This is Merlin's Quest -- our next attraction, and the other ride in the new Avalon section of the park. Here's one of Merlin's little friends, as seen in a set piece in the ride queue. Looking down from the queue at the loading station. We were among the first to challenge Merlin's Quest after the park had officially opened. We might have actually been the first riders. POV shot from the front of the boat! Here's another one of the boats, so you can get an idea of what we're riding. We're going to go through a stone arch tunnel... ...and then enjoy this wonderful view of the Fenix station area. Underneath the Fenix station is an indoor dark ride section, which was quite nice. This photographer failed to obtain anything even remotely usable from inside, so you'll just have to take his word for it. After Merlin's Quest, we headed over to a /slightly/ older section of the park. Here's my current favorite tornado-themed roller coaster: Dwervelwind. Mack spinners are awesome, and easily my favorite type of spinning coasters. Dwervelwind also has a really good layout -- with some steep drops and sharp curves. That means that even if you don't get spinning too much, the layout is still fun. But if you get spinning, as we did during our two rides, it can get kind of crazy. Not far from Dwervelwind is Booster Bike -- Vekoma's first motorbike coaster. The seating arrangement is, to me, a little awkward. (2016) A new generation of bad-ass bikers has emerged. (2016) Waiting at the front -- the launch is up next. A Booster Bike train launches away -- right into the fist airtime hill. (2016) Picking up speed on the Booster Bike launch track. I do think I prefer Booster Bike to the Zamperla version (i.e. Pony Express at Knott's). Random Booster Bike riders of all ages! Preparing for another Booster Bike launch. ...and away they go. I jumped on ahead of my group, and got off the ride in time to get some pictures. Stacy and Daniel look like they need a little Vekoma in their lives. A whole bunch of TPR people having fun -- which is kind of what we do. Hands up or hold on? AJ's going more for the Superman pose. Alright, continuing the credit run at Troy. Which, to me, will always be TROY! Or, I guess, TROY! the ride. There's a joke in here somewhere about a group of TPR people and a trojan horse. Sometimes it's better to just leave the jokes unwritten... ...because I often worry about what I'd have to write if I were captioning things accurately. There's girl power, and then there's TPR girl power! So, theme song aside, Troy remains one of my favorite GCI coasters. (2016) It's among GCI's taller coasters at 104.5 feet. I think either Wodan or Wood Coaster take the top spot. It's got your big, sweeping elevated turns -- on this date, amidst a dramatic cloudy backdrop. But it's also got this element -- a straight floater-air hill. That's a rarity for GCI, and it's one of my favorite parts of the ride. (2016) The big curving drop is about what you'd expect. All of the elements are taken at fast pace, and there's never a dull moment on the ride. Not a ton of great photo angles, at least from inside the park, but there are a few in the queue. (2016) There are a few decent views of one of the curves near the north end of the ride. There are even a couple of four-years-ago TPR people in this shot. (2016) Back in 2019, Daniel and Barry are clearly excited for a ride on Troy. One more overview shot of the lift hill. (2016) This might be my favorite picture from the 2016 visit to Toverland -- a Tarantino-esque walk from a group of charter bus drivers. (2016) With most of the coasters out of the way, now it's time to have a little bit of fun. Have I mentioned that there are lots of ways to have fun at Toverland? (2016) Just outside of the main building is this large water area, with bridges and rocks and small pathways. It's almost like something out of a video game. (2016) Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to put on your bravest Super Mario face and traverse the platforms without falling in. (2016) One missed step might send you knee-deep -- or worse if you lose your balance. (2016) Somehow, this kid brought a raft all the way out to the splash zone of the log flume. Now how is he supposed to get back? (2016) Don't swim. Unless you fall in, because then you might not have much of a choice. (2016) So, let's give this our best shot. We'll start with these two precarious bridges. Daniel showing some confidence on the swinging bridge. Caroline is full speed ahead! Barry, losing his balance, reaches for the rope ... which might be a bit of foreshadowing ... Ryan's just trying to get off that bridge as quickly as he can. Stacy makes her way across, and we're on to the next challenge. Colin's found us a raft. This was set to be our first experience with a raft on the 2019 TPR Europe trip. It would not be the last. This is all important practice for later. Maybe try to work on the whole 'balance' thing? Colin and Barry seem to have a good system. But this is the best system of all -- Colin stands there looking regal, and everyone else does the work for him! Anyway, congrats on not sinking the raft. You'll have a tougher time with that at our next park... Heading indoors, we're gonna get our BobKart on. (pic from 2016) Colin goes BobKarting. Stacy goes BobKarting. Ryan goes BobKarting! David BobKarting goes! BobKarting goes AJ! Goes Caroline BobKarting! Barry does something. Daniel pulls up the caboose. This is a look at the second of Toverland's two buildings. The BobKart loading zone is at the left side of the picture. (2016) There's also a carousel in here! (2016) There's a huge indoor play area, with slides and climbing areas. The log flume trough is in the foreground. Toverland's mascots also call this area their home -- putting on a show that I likely would not have understood even if it were in English. Second half of the pics coming up below.
  23. Saturday, July 20, 2019 Day 9: Toverland Few parks on the planet have experienced 18 years of change like Toverland has. In fact, you don't even have to go back that far. I visited Toverland on the 2016 TPR trip, and between then and 2019, they'd built two new themed areas -- including one that added a full-size B&M in a huge expansion into what was once a barren, swampy field. What sets Toverland apart from some other parks that have grown very quickly -- including one that will show up later in this TR -- is that it all feels very organic and responsible. Toverland started as an indoor FEC-on-steroids in 2001, and over the years new attractions have been added at what I'd call a reasonable pace. A second indoor area and a Vekoma launch coaster in 2004. A GCI woodie in 2007 -- their first full-size thrill coaster, a huge step for the park. Magical Valley (and a Mack spinner) in the early 2010s. Then, in 2018, the outdoor expansion -- Toverland's biggest yet. There really isn't any US park that would serve as a fair comparison to Toverland, but the closest one I can think of is Holiday World. Both parks started as small family attractions, and still primarily cater to families. Both parks are independent theme park operations, growing and making big expenditures very carefully. Oh, and both parks have a B&M wing coaster, though you'll have to read on to see which one I prefer. We made our way to Toverland immediately after departing the Efteling hotel, arriving early in the morning for some ERT and filming on Fenix -- the aforementioned B&M. We split off after that to tackle the rest of the park, finding that crowds were surprisingly manageable for a Saturday in the middle of the summer. We had about six hours of free time in the park, which you might think would be enough for Toverland, but I could have used another hour or two. Unfortunately, some combination of bus driver rules and weather concerns (thank me later for keeping it all north of the park) brought about a group vote and a departure at 4PM. I missed an attraction or two, and didn't finish all of my planned photography, but that's OK -- I've got a photo set from 2016 to pull from also. So, this post is going to be a hybrid, sort of like the Efteling TR -- mostly from this year, but I'll mix in the older photos to fill in some gaps. There's one more thing to mention. Toverland's more than a theme park -- it's also a giant playground. There are lots of ways to have fun. There are lots of ways to injure and/or soak yourself. And we're going to try out most of them. So prepare for a lot of old-school TPR fun in this trip report -- we're all acting like kids here! On to the ride reviews... Fenix: This ride deserves a lot of credit for its beautiful setting in Toverland's new Avalon area. It's among the best themed B&M wing coasters that I've been on. It's not a big, plodding hulk of a ride like Gatekeeper -- it's somewhat compact, and hits its elements without much wasted time in between. You can definitely feel some intensity on this ride, and I like the overall layout. Unfortunately, I did have a problem with a rattling/bouncing, even when taking the inside seats. It was starting to get to me by the 3rd or 4th ride. That may just be an unfortunate limitation of the wing coaster design, since it's happened on pretty much every one that I've been on. With that aside, I like Fenix, and it will probably slot in as my 3rd favorite wing coaster -- behind Wild Eagle at #2, and Thunderbird at #1. Yep, Holiday World gets the win. Troy: Still one of my favorite GCIs, but it's just not the same without the old theme song. It just isn't. The layout is very good -- it's a nice assortment of the things GCI is good at, with a fun station fly-by, and a rare-for-GCI straight floater airtime hill. It's just one old-school theme song away from greatness. I should also note that Troy began an unfortunate trend on this trip of top-tier rides at various parks running just one train. In fact, as AJ noted in his TR, they pulled the second train off of Troy while we were queuing. Didn't hurt us then, but did keep me from getting a second ride later in the day. Booster Bike: The precursor to Tron is still running strong at Toverland. I'm not a huge fan of the seating style, but I can handle it for this short ride. It's a fun family attraction with some decent airtime and a kid-friendly launch. Dwervelwind: Massively underrated. I enjoyed it in 2016 and loved it even more in 2019. In fact, our group was expecting a one-and-done, but we ran back around and got in line for a second go! Mack spinners need to find their way to more parks -- kick the tired old spinning mice to the curb, please. Also, this ride is themed to a tornado, which means I automatically have to like it. Toos-Express: It's a Vekoma junior coaster that used to be called Boomerang. It was, by default, the best coaster named Boomerang that ever existed. It is still a perfectly acceptable family/kiddie ride. Maximus' Blitz Bahn: A rare Bobkart! It's fun. It's like riding a powered alpine slide. It's also a capacity nightmare, so I think this is getting moved up to "first ride of the day" on any future trip to Toverland. Expedition Zork: Who doesn't like a double-drop reversing-turn-table log flume? I rode this as Backstroke in 2016 (skipped it for pictures in 2019) and I simply wish more parks had lengthy, reversing flumes like this. They are a lot of fun, and they're fairly common in the Benelux. Merlin's Quest: The other new attraction in Avalon, it's a gentle boat ride that traverses underneath Fenix, and also includes a very nice indoor dark ride section. Ropes Course: Way too easy. A four-year-old could complete it. *ducks barrage of tomatoes and/or other random objects*
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