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RMCs & Poffertjes: Chuck & TPR 's 2019 Europe Trip


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^It looks like he was photo-shopped into it. It amused me, too, when I was sorting through the photos.

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^It looks like he was photo-shopped into it. It amused me, too, when I was sorting through the photos.

 

You just got a lot of great candid shots, Chuck Great report! Really enjoying it.

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Whimsy, with a Bit of an Edge: Efteling

 

Once upon a time, there were seven little goats, who lived with their mother in an adorable cottage in the woods. One day, mother left her kids at home alone while she went to market, admonishing them not to let any strangers into the house while she was away. So, of course, the little darlings opened the door to a well-dressed wolf, who gobbled them up. But the wolf made a crucial mistake. He left one alive. What happened when mother returned and found that only one of her kids had survived?

 

Let’s just say, blood begat blood!

 

Wasn’t that adorable? If Quentin Tarantino worked for Disney, this is the movie he would make.

 

“The Wolf and the Seven Kids" is just one of the tales depicted in the Fairytale Forest at Efteling, a huge, beautiful Dutch theme park. It’s tempting to call Efteling “Disney’s Fantasyland on Steroids,” as the whole park is dedicated to fantasy and fairy tales. But unlike Disney, Efteling doesn’t “sanitize” the old stories. As with the story above, many of the events depicted in Efteling’s Fairytale Forest are “grimm,” indeed, with endings that are not always happy. This park sticks close to its European roots.

 

Efteling was another park I’d last visited in 2008, and I was looking forward to going back. Much had changed since then, with big new attractions, such as Baron (a heavily themed B&M Dive Machine), Joras en de Draak (a racing/dueling GCI woodie), and Symbolica (a trackless dark ride). Even the park’s old Vekoma loopscrew, Python, had been completely rebuilt. The park’s take on “It’s a Small World,” Carnival Festival, had received a make-over to remove some its, shall we say, potentially offensive elements.

 

And it was time to say good bye to the park’s old Intamin Bobsled, which is appropriately named Bob. This was its last season.

 

How did the new rides stack up? Pretty well. For me, the biggest hit was Symbolica--a “Disney-level,” trackless dark ride with great animatronics, excellent music, and plenty of surprises. The basic story is that you’ve been invited to a reception for a king, but the court jester (using a magic scepter) hijacks your group. Much magical mayhem ensues.

 

One unique feature of Symbolica is that you can choose your adventure by following the path of Heroes, Treasure, or Music. Each tour offers a unique room with an interactive game, along with a few other surprises. There is one caveat: If you’re in the single-rider line, you don’t get to choose (just fill an empty seat). I rode the path of Heroes with Larry and Ryan the first time--and two other times when we used the single-rider line. Oh, well--I did ride the Treasure car once, but missed out on Music.

 

Some in our group compared Symbolica to Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland. It’s good to see a park outside of Disney using trackless-dark-ride technology so well.

 

Efteling is Epcot huge, but tougher to navigate (it just sprawls out everywhere). That being said, it’s a fun place to explore. Let’s go in and have a look around. Let me know if you see any of the coasters. They’re surprisingly elusive.

 

Don't worry, We have tonight and all day tomorrow to check the place out.

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The Efteling Hotel resembles a “floating castle.” It doesn’t “float” high enough to be seen from inside the park, unless you’re on the flying island.

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Your story begins here . . . well, after you check in, lug your bags to your room, use the toilet (if necessary), etc.

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Or perhaps your story begins and ends when you’re killed by this enormous bird. Oh, such whimsy in Efteling!

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The rooms had these cute board games, which were sort of like scavenger hunts. Note item 2 regarding the red shoes.

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Found ‘em. One of the game’s spaces required you to dance like an elf. I think the group that closed the hotel bar that night would’ve rocked that stunt.

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The hotel guest entrance isn’t as awe inspiring as the main park entrance, but it’s very handy.

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Let the nightmares, er, whimsy begin!

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Efteling is enormous and beautiful. But where are the coasters?

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Aha!

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It was quite a hike to Baron.

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While the ride itself is an OK B&M Dive Coaster, the “haunted mine/steam punk" theming is excellent.

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From here, you plunge into a mist-filled tunnel, which feels refreshing on a hot day. Yet, the ghosts that protect the mine’s gold consider this a curse. Go figure.

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This is the best part of the ride. The rest is a bit shaky (little bit of ear boxing on the restraints).

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The theming and landscaping make Baron stand out.

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I’d love to see more rides like Symbolica at other parks.

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OK, how many of you have been to parties like this? You’re sipping a nice glass of Hawaiian Punch . . .

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. . . then realize that some clown has spiked it with LSD? (This is a great pre-show.)

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So, what’s your pleasure: Music, Heroes, or Treasure?

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Yes, like Gandalf, you’ll feel like you just smoked some of that Hobbit weed.

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Universal should study this bit . . .

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. . . to learn how giant-fish-and-water effects should be done.

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There was some sort of “Heroes” interactive game here, but I’m not sure it worked.

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I rode “Heroes" three times, and each time, the blue knight knocked the golden knight’s block off.

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OK, shall we have pancakes for dinner . . .

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. . . or poffertjes?

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Peacocks prefer poffertjes.

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Droomvlucht sums up Efteling perfectly. I have no idea what’s going on . . .

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. . . but it has castles . . .

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. . . and fairies and goblins and other sorts of magical stuff. But it’s still not a coaster credit.

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Brad prepares himself for the exquisite terror of the park’s Vekoma Mad House.

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Goats. Why did they have to ride goats?

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Who’s in the portrait on the lower right? Sort of looks like Christopher Walken.

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Welcome to Fata Morgana, or “Pirates of the Persian Gulf.”

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“Back, lest I stick you with my pointy hat!”

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Pirates of the Caribbean doesn’t have a scene involving dentistry. In your face, Disney!

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OK, this ride suddenly became a bit more interesting than Pirates of the Caribbean.

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Er, dude with the girded loins? We're trying to watch the belly dancers, so down in front!

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Can you stand the horror of . . .

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. . . exiting via the gift shop?

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A puff or two on this should take the edge off the terror.

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Here’s all you need to know about the lagoon show--it has fire and water, thus making it Mini-Illuminations, with giant spitting frogs.

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Time for a beer in the hotel’s very pleasant bar. Leffe is a good Belgian ale. More to come.

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OK, rise and shine! Time for the ERT/filming sessions! Thanks for setting all this up, Robb and Elissa.

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Good morning! Who’s ready for some loopin’ and screwin’--Vekoma style?

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This guy was here in 2008. I’m glad he still has a job.

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The Vekoma vest restraints work pretty well--a little better than B&M’s version, in my opinion.

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The rebuilt Python is, indeed, better than the original version. At least it’s better than hitting yourself in the head with a brick.

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They made a terrible ride into a decent one, and the corkscrew nicely frames Vliegende Hollander (or, the “Flying Dutchman”).

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We had a filming session on Joras en de Draak. I enjoyed this coaster.

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Beautiful station with a great gimmick: If your train wins, you hear cheers. If you lose, you get booed.

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I had a knack for picking the losing train.

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You can barely see the “Draak” in this photo. I’ll give you a better look at it later.

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And now, one of the weirdest dark-ride/coaster/water rides ever: Vilegende Hollander.

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You meet the Dutchman in the show building, so I guess this is the “flying” part.

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Efteling seems fond of mist-filled tunnels.

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The Dutchman has his horrible vengeance! Well, you don't even get wet, so it's not that horrible. Still, this is a unique ride.

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Vogel Rok is one big bird. Fortunately, it didn’t take one big dump on me. (It's a decent indoor coaster, too.)

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Oh, Larry! Just use your card in the ATM like everyone else. You’ll rupture yourself!

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Carnaval Festival is now certified 70% less racist than it was in 2008.

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The frogs seem pretty neutral . . . well, unless they're supposed to represent the French.

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“It’s a less racist world after all!”

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Well, unless you’re German, I guess.

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"Impassioned lovers wrestle as one!"

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The dragon approves of the sumo porn.

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Yes, they did reduce Carnaval Festival’s more “racist” aspects . . .

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. . . yet they still have this attraction just across from it.

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But the “cannibal” only eats ice cream, so I guess it’s OK.

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Right, Larry and Ryan?

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Efteling has a beautiful carousel that still uses its original steam-driven engine.

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It rotates at “ludicrous speed,” too.

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There are some beautiful dioramas in this building, as well.

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I love it when a park has “hidden” attractions like this.

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Time to relax a bit on the flying island.

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Aha! There’s the hotel. You can’t see it from the ground when you’re in the park. It really does look like a floating castle from there.

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Nice view of town, too.

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Oh, so that’s the main entrance. It’s very pointy.

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Check out the solar panels on Symbolica’s roof. That’s the real magic.

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See how closely the park’s main coasters are clustered together?

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Unlike 2008, I hear no cries of pain coming from Python.

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Find the coaster car in this photo, win a kewpie doll.

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No prize for spotting the boats, though. One more set of photos to go. Whew!

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Sometimes, I just lose track of how many photos I've taken. Thanks for being patient. Here's the last batch from Efteling, starting with a look at the Fairytale Forest, which is full of whimsy, sex, violence, and death! The look of the place reminds of the films of Terry Gilliam.

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Please note the smoking regulations for Fairytale Forest.

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“Gawd, I’d kill for a smoke right now, but I’m outside the ‘designated smoking area.’ It sucks to be me.”

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“I can smoke to my heart’s content high above everyone.”

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“You can smoke in my house, kiddies! Free cigarettes for everyone!”

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“What the hell is this in front of the gingerbread house?”

“It’s a lemonade fountain.”

“OK, if you say so.”

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This is, of course, “art,” and in no way objectionable.

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“Oh, yes, I do appreciate art! Really, I do.”

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“Pinocchio vs. Cthulhu” was a fairy tale that never made it to the U.S.

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Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time . . . in Efteling.”

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Remember, kids: Death is ever present! Pleasant dreams! Fairytale Forest is one of the park's oldest attractions, but still fun to visit. They add new stories each year, and many of the sets are interactive, with triggers that set off audio and physical effects.

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The Efteling museum had all sorts of, er, delightful artifacts.

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Here’s a map from when Efteling was more of a “city park" than a “theme park." You can see the Fairytale Forest (“Sprookjesbos”), along with the huge carousel building. They used to have tennis courts, too.

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I want this on my front steps as a Halloween decoration.

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There’s still a piece of the old Python at Efteling. Touch it to hear the moans of the tormented souls who endured the old coaster.

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And now, Raveleijn, or Game of Thrones--Efteling Style.

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The story has something to do with some queen who controls birds. I think.

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She has her own team of bird “warriors,” I guess.

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Oh no! The bad guys have stuffed the bird queen into a Dalek, or something, and sent her to another dimension!

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This evil swordsman looks like a generic “goon" on the old Batman TV show. Maybe he works for the Penguin, too.

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The horse will be fine, as long as he doesn’t break wind.

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Uh oh! The horse farted and spawned a dragon!

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The bird queen is safe! Hooray! We had a very good dinner in the restaurant that adjoins the theater.

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This is the first time I’ve visited Efteling’s main entrance. It’s pretty impressive, especially after dark.

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I like the path that runs by Draak. You get a much better look at the dragon here than you do from the coaster.

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It was great to see the park at night. The Fata Morgana building looks beautiful.

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Big day tomorrow, so back to the hotel we go. That’s all for now. Toverland is next!

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Oh no! The bad guys have stuffed the bird queen into a Dalek, or something, and sent her to another dimension!

You know, I was about to cheer for the bird queen in the end, but then she literally drowned the bad guy and I became unsure of who the villain in the story actually was.

 

The rebuilt Python is, indeed, better than the original version. At least it’s better than hitting yourself in the head with a brick.

Can confirm, it is not worse than hitting yourself with a brick.

 

Great commentary as usual Chuck!

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From the Walls of Troy to the Fields of Avalon: Toverland

 

Back in 2008, Toverland was like a particularly good, eccentric FEC on steroids themed to elves and magic, with a touch of science fiction and ancient Greek history. The park was a large indoor/outdoor “playground” with some rides, including two big coasters, Troy and Booster Bike. I remember much mayhem as TPR members played on a bunch of “never in the U.S.” playground equipment. I think there were some minor injuries, but no deaths.

 

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It was good then. It’s better now, with the addition of a water-play area named Port Laguna and Avalon, a realm dedicated to the days of King Arthur. Avalon boasts a B&M Wing Coaster named Fenix and Merlin’s Quest, a boat ride (along with shopping, dining, and some pretty gardens, of course).

 

I’m not a big fan of B&M Wing Coasters, but I enjoyed Fenix--from the beautiful theming in the queue and station to the ride itself. My big problem with most Wing Coasters is that they “meander” between their various elements, while the vest restraints squeeze the breath out of you like a python squashing its prey. But Fenix doesn’t waste a lot of time “meandering”; it shoots through its various inversions and other tricks quickly and provides some nice air time along the way. This is my favorite of the B&M Wing Coasters I’ve ridden.

 

Merlin’s Quest is not only a nice boat tour of Avalon, but also a very good dark ride through Merlin’s “treasure chamber.” He certainly had a lot of books, in addition to a mermaid, stashed in a very colorful cavern. Merlin’s underground river winds under the twisted tower of Fenix, which reminded me a bit of the tower the old wizard used in Disney’s “The Sword and the Stone.”

 

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How about the rest of Toverland? Troy is still a fun, large GCI wooden coaster, and the Vekoma Booster Bike is still good. I liked how they rethemed the old Bobkarts, too. Looking good, Toverland.

 

Well, better get a move on. Robb has a filming session set up for Fenix, and we might be in for some rain later.

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Good morning, everyone. Hello, Troy.

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What is the name of this park? How do we get in? It is all a mystery!

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I’m going to say . . . here?

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Are we sure we’re at Toverland? I have no memory of this “Port Laguna.” I feel like Gandalf in the Mines of Moria!

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Where the heck is Fenix? You think there’d be a sign or something.

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Toverland went crazy making the queue look like a tunnel to a witch’s cave or something. I presume the witch is Morgana, being as this is Avalon and there’s also a ride about Merlin nearby.

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Or maybe it’s themed to a political talk show?

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Who is that mysterious spectre at the end of the hall . . . oh, it’s just Elissa. Never mind.

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Nice station. Nice station to get cursed in!

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My hat's off to B&M and Toverland--nice job!

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I guess Brad and Steve liked it.

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Riders on this train seem to like it.

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Not so sure about Larry and Andrew.

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“We’re following the leader! The leader! The leader!” (This is for all you fans of Disney's "Peter Pan.")

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Oh, yeah--this spinning coaster was new to me, too.

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This was, well, no Fenix, but it wasn't bad, either.

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If you like Sierra Sidewinder, you’ll probably like Dwervelwind.

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Is a troll is fishing from Jack Skellington’s head, or am I seeing things? Did Dwervelwind spin me a bit more than I thought?

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We embarked on a journey, . . .

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. . . which involved many perils, . . .

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. . . to join the Greek armies at the gates of Troy!

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Sheesh! You make one joke about Greeks bearing gifts . . . Agamemnon has no sense of humor.

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Hmm . . . it was quite clever of mighty Agamemnon and crafty Odysseus . . .

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. . . to build both a wooden horse and coaster . . .

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. . . to distract and entertain the people of Troy while the Greeks looted and burned their city.

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It’s not exactly “Tron,” but it is a Booster Bike.

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This is Toos Express. It is an indoor Vekoma Junior Coaster themed to a train that was once named “Boomerang.” It should in no way be confused with a Vekoma Boomerang, despite once being named “Boomerang.” I hope this matter is now clear.

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Before Universal had Diagon Alley, Toverland had Toverhuis.

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Test your wizarding skills, if your wand works.

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Amphibious expectoratum! More to come.

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We still have some time left at Toverland. Let's make the most of it.

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“Join us on the Pyramid of Death, kiddies! Face your mortality with a smile!”

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Toverland once had just plain ol’ Bobkarts.

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Then some guy in lederhosen discovered that high-powered schnapps made great fuel.

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Thus, Blitzbahn was born!

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Meanwhile, back in Avalon, . . .

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. . .Fenix is being very photogenic.

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Merlin called. He has some frickin’ quest for us.

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Hmm--I think our quest involves that rickety looking old tower.

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We have found the lost encyclopedias of Merlin! Now we can look up all that Harry Potter crap!

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“Hroom! Hroom! I am an ent! No one is entirely on my side. Perhaps I'll just get drunk.”

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Nobody messes with Merlin’s mer-chick. The “dark-ride” section was much longer than we thought it would be and very well done.

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Merlin conjures up some great views of Fenix from his ride.

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Check out this path on the right. This is for guests, not just park staff, and it runs along the water with no fence and very close to Fenix. Never in the U.S.

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A boat and a coaster train in one shot! I rule!

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How often can you get this close to a big coaster without being on a backstage tour?

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One of these water jets grazed my head.

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“We have reports of a back up on the reversing flume ride.”

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“If you do not have to be on the flume, stay where you are until this situation is cleared.” Sounded like good advice.

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Toverland’s biergarten comes complete with a maypole.

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Well, the flume’s still backed up, May as well have a smoke.

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Larry entered the hedge maze. We never saw him again. (OK, that’s a lie.)

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I hope Larry wasn’t stung by this enormous bee.

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Hmm--the last time I saw a ropes course like this, . . .

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. . . it was in a monkey enclosure.

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Time to head out, lest we get caught in this storm.

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Have fun being conquered, people of Troy!

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I hope having this big GCI was worth having your city sacked and burned. That’s all for now. Stand by for Walibi Holland.

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“We have reports of a back up on the reversing flume ride.”

There were several occasions when I thought that I had seriously "camera of doom"ed the log flume! Thankfully it started back up each time...

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“We have reports of a back up on the reversing flume ride.”

There were several occasions when I thought that I had seriously "camera of doom"ed the log flume! Thankfully it started back up each time...

 

Hmm--or it could be that this man . . .

 

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. . . the infamous John had pointed his Original Camera of Doom in the general direction of Toverland on that day.

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Excellent photos! I had to unfortunately miss out on Toverland when we visited the Netherlands last year (it was either them or Efteling). Really looking forward to seeing how this park continues to grow!

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Toverland continues to evolve and grow, can't wait to see it ten years from now! It will be a real resort!

 

It's good to see this unique park doing so well. I think a fairy-tale-themed hotel and campground would be great additions.

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