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Photo TR: A.J. versus the 2019 TPR Europe Trip!


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Hey everyone!

 

You've already seen a few trip reports already, but here's mine! Another one got ahead of you, Larry!

 

So, full disclosure - up until the middle of July of this year, I had never been outside the United States - not even to Canada (eh) or Mexico! With (finally) a decent paying job this year, I began to plan my first international trip on my own. Little did I know that one of Theme Park Review's trips this year would end up being a Europe trip. Needless to say, Elissa brought me on board earlier this year and the rest is history.

 

That history being, one of the best experiences I have had so far in my life. I met some great new people, went to some amazing theme parks, and had exactly twenty-three Pofferjes. That last one might be made up, but I did have A LOT of Pofferjes.

 

Follow along with me as I show you the parks and places of the 2019 Europe trip, from the perspective of a first-time trip participant.

 

Episode 1 - "Bobbing Through Bobbejaanland", or, "Virtual Reality Makes the Queues Too Long"

Episode 2 - "A Quick Romp Through Amsterdam", or, "What I Thought Was A Quick Romp But Actually Wasn't"

Episode 3 - "Is Efteling Really Better Than a Disney Park?", or, "Don't Take The Flying Dutchman's Dining Sock"

Episode 4 - "Turning Toverland Upside-down", or, "If You Don't Get Injured You're Not Doing It Right"

Episode 5 - "Walibi Holland Went A Little Heavy On The Grafitti", or, "The Wilderness Apparently Loves Instagram Influencers"

Episode 6 - "How The Heck Did We Get to Drievliet Anyway?", or, This Slide Might Actually Be The Worst"

Episode 7 - "Duinrell and The Nautic Jet", or, "How Did All Of Those Campers Disappear So Quickly?"

Episode 8 - "Hyperion Has A Lot of Potential Energy-landia", or, "The Worst Best Park You'll Ever Get To See"

Episode 9 - "Legendia's Lech Next To A Loch", or, "Doesn't This Place Feel Slightly Creepy?"

Episode 10 - Auschwitz and Birkenau (this one doesn't have a fun title, sorry)

Episode 11 - "Look, Mom, Liseberg Let Me Deface A Roller Coaster", or, "Helix's Terrible No Good Very Bad Day"

Episode 12 - "The Kilometers Upon Kilometers of the Kolmarden Zoo", or, "I Hope That I Get To Meet Aggretsuko"

Episode 13 - "Grona Lund's Theme Park In A Box", or, "Are Those Really What Human Breasts Look Like?"

 

 

 

Obviously, since you've read this far in the post, you know where we're starting...

 

Episode 1 - "Bobbing Through Bobbejaanland", or, "Virtual Reality Makes the Queues Too Long"

 

So, unlike most others on this trip, I didn't get to take a quick hop to downtown Amsterdam (or anywhere else for that matter) before things got started. That's because...

 

Imagine the scenario. A worrywart of a redhead has a non-eventful flight from Orlando to Newark, with a four hour connection there. The redhead knows that he has to get to Amsterdam on time to meet his new friends to cram on a bus and go to a theme park in Belgium. The redhead's flight ends up being delayed almost two hours. The redhead panics.

 

Thankfully, I was on a flight with a wonderful crew that let me hop up to a seat in the front of the economy section right before we landed. I was the first one through immigration, and I grabbed a train ticket while waiting for my baggage. I was able to sprint all the way to the trip hotel near the Bijlmer Arena, with my bags in tow, with mere minutes to spare. It was off to Bobbejaanland!

 

This visit ended up being extremely casual for me, as I really just wanted to take everything in after my nail-biting plane experience. The photos will get better as the trip report goes along, I promise!

 

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Hey, look! It's a park! A PARK!!! After the previous forty eight hours of my life, this was a freaking MIRACLE.

 

Bobbejaanland is... interesting, to say the least. At a glance, it's a pretty normal traditional amusement park. However, Bobbejaanland has lately been attempting to theme its areas, with, in my opinion... mixed results.

 

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Is that a vertical lift roller coaster or are you just happy to see me?

 

Typhoon, one of the oldest Euro Fighter coasters, was my first coaster outside of the United States, and, honestly, I could have done worse. It has a pretty forceful vertical loop and three hang time rolls!

 

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They see me roll-ing...

 

Typhoon, and its larger sister coaster Fury, are part of Bobbejaanland's new Land of Legends themed area which, if we're being honest, isn't much of a themed area. The three attractions in the area all have their entrances and exits in the same plaza, which has a large character statue in the center. It's pretty obvious that Typhoon was re-themed / overlaid to fit the new area, but Fury's theming is much more convincing.

 

Let's talk about Fury then!

 

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Masterpiece!

 

Fury is a brand-new Gerstlauer Infinity Coaster with a TWIST! When you take your seat and pull down the lap restraint, you're allowed to select the direction in which you want the ride to travel. All twelve (or less) people in the train make their vote, and the majority decides the direction. The train turns into position using turntables at the beginning and end of the circuit. I'm a big wuss that gets motion sick sometimes so I only ever wanted to ride it forward. Thankfully, I wasn't unpleasantly surprised any of the times I rode it (thanks everyone).

 

The ride itself is pretty spectacular. You get excellent hang time during the spikes at the beginning and end of the circuit. The second launch (forward, backward, forward) is surprisingly forceful. There's ejector airtime over the first hill, and great airtime and forces all around. Even after this trip, Fury is near the top of my list.

 

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Is this train going down... or up? Go watch that Theme Park Review YouTube video to find out! Like comment subscribe hit the bell icon!

 

After some post-trip soul-searching, I found out that Fury was my one hundredth coaster. Good for me, I guess? Nerd?

 

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Here's one more, this thing is amazing.

 

Making your way around the park in a counter-clockwise loop, you'll eventually run into Naga Bay, the park's Maurer spinning coaster. Naga Bay is dumb. Not the ride, though - the ride is actually pretty fun, and myself and Chuck got some good spinning out of it.

 

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Some call it a spinning coaster, others a sideways coaster. Play the lottery, I suppose.

 

What's dumb has to do with Bobbejaanland's retheming. It used to be called "Dizz" and be of a modern theme, but the park wanted to theme it to their Adventure Valley land. So, instead of bringing the land to the coaster, Bobbejaanland reconfigured the queue so that the ride entrance was in the Adventure land. This means that you see the sign for Naga Bay near the station, but in reality, you have to walk a long while in the opposite direction of the station platform to find the ride entrance, and THEN you have to walk all the way back. I find (Found? Am I screwing up my tenses?) this infuriating.

 

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The entrance is down this pathway somewhere. At least the pathway is pleasant!

 

Next on our list was the Forbidden Caves dark ride. Larry led our little group in there and insisted that we wouldn't get killed Indiana Jones style. Obviously I'm still alive but I can't guarantee that anyone else lived. The ride itself is effectively discount Universal Kong, with action happening in a large vehicle on a shaking platform with surround screens. It didn't work for me and was kind of boring.

 

But what's even MORE boring than the Forbidden Caves ride is the wait for Revolution / Mount Mara, Bobbejaanland's indoor coaster and the subject of more than one "WTF" Theme Park Review video.

 

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It's (a) roller coaster(s) in a box!

 

Here's where things get really stupid. Bobbejaanland has been going all-in on the virtual reality (VR) coaster game. For Revolution, they have virtual reality headsets for exactly half of its 30-car (!!) train, so the queue is split for both experiences. Revolution's operations were appalling, lengthening the wait times to the point where I believe we once waited more than ten minutes for a single dispatch. They were doing some odd grouping thing for the VR riders up front. The ride itself, though, is just as weirdly "WTF" awesome as the videos make it out to me. I really can't explain how it makes me feel.

 

Next up for us was Speedy Bob, which was probably the best standard wild mouse I've ever experienced. No brakes no brakes no brakes!

 

Other victim to the virtual reality trend was Dream Catcher, the park's old-style Vekoma suspended coaster. The queues were very long for that, too, and while most people waited it out to get their credit, I skipped it. Robb caught an interesting photo of the park cycling a train empty, but with the harnesses up AND the virtual reality equipment just danging below by their cables. Only in Europe, I guess?

 

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You better ride this pretty good roller skater, okie dokie?

 

One coaster I didn't skip was Oki Doki. It may look like a typical Vekoma roller skater junior coaster but it's actually really fun! We also didn't skip the dark ride affectionately referred to as "Bench The Ride".

 

Here are some more random photos -

 

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Here's the third attraction in the Land of Legends. It's a splash pad. Nice, but it isn't really a headliner, is it?

 

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So, how many credits does Bob Express count as?

 

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It's a log flume, but they turned the water off... Does that mean it's just a log?

 

At the end of the day, we had our first exclusive ride time of the trip. We had it on Typhoon first, which was fun, but the star of the evening was Fury! As a group we agreed to always alternate between forward / backward rides so that everyone had a chance to ride the way they wanted to.

 

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The Land of Legends' fearless leader.

 

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Peeking out overhead.

 

So, good first day of the 2019 Europe trip? I think so! Onto the next one!

 

Random thoughts:

  • Bobbejaanland has very little signage that provides guests with true wayfinding. The park is generally just a loop so it's okay, but there are definitely a few spots where people could get lost.
  • As evidenced in the Naga Bay photo above, the park has a lot of little crannies where the foliage just looks gorgeous.
  • The vast majority of the park just looks nice. Nothing earth-shattering, but certainly worth just sitting down and spending your time.
  • I also skipped Bob Express (the powered coaster) because really, who cares?
  • Bobbejaanland's cowboy theming looks like how a U.S. theme park operator would try and theme a land to an Asian country like China or Japan. The thought is there, the effort is there, but it doesn't feel quite right. Kind of cartoony, a little bit out of touch, very stereotypical - though apart from the dark ride I never found anything blatantly offensive as a U.S. citizen.
  • The King Kong ride is also weirdly awesome. It also has what are apparently anatomically-correct nipples?
  • Typhoon has the same problem as Naga Bay in that the entrance and exit are really far away from the platform, and that can get confusing, especially if you have been to the park prior to its "transformation".

 

Thanks for reading! Next up, I actually get to take a run into Amsterdam!

Edited by A.J.
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I think your take on Bobbejaanland is correct. As I recall from my previous visit in 2008, the only themed area was the Old West town. I like that they're adding some more theming, even if it doesn't quite live up to their concept art.

 

Great photos, too.

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It was a really fun trip and Bobbejaanland was a pretty good first park of the trip despite some operations like VR clogging couple of the lines. I didn't do much research on the park beforehand but it exceeded my expectations and there was a lot more to do there than I expected. There's some rides I missed out on due to the park's 6PM close that I would've liked to try like the indoor rapids, log flume, and the King Kong flat ride but Bobbejaanland is a place I wouldn't mind going back to if I was in Belgium. Fury was amazing (especially riding it backwards) and was one of my favorite coasters of the whole trip. The only letdown for me was the Forbidden Caves dark ride which had the worst 3D I've ever seen on a ride and was super blurry. Anyways looking forward to seeing more of your pictures and reliving the trip through the TRs.

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Some great points about how the Fury / Land of Legends theming really screwed up the queue entrances to Naga Dizz Bay and Typhoon. I hadn't thought about it at the time, but it's pretty obvious now that you bring it up.

 

Fury, however, is fantastic. It's by far the best ride in the park!

 

This was definitely a day where I felt kind of bad for the people who were trying to get all or most of the credits, because there's some cool stuff (monorail, flume, ferris wheel, and just enjoying the scenery) I know a few people missed out on. Stacy and I bailed on Revolution because the queue was just as awful as you indicated.

 

Overall they've definitely made some nice improvements since 2016 though, and I'm anxious to see how they follow up Fury!

 

Great start to the report, can't wait to see more.

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Some great points about how the Fury / Land of Legends theming really screwed up the queue entrances to Naga Dizz Bay and Typhoon. I hadn't thought about it at the time, but it's pretty obvious now that you bring it up.

I briefly touched on Typhoon but it had the same problem as Naga Bay as well. Our group actually went to Typhoon's platform thinking the entrance and exit were there but then had to go all the way around. Whereas previously, the pathway went all around the ride, now, that little area in front of the platform is basically a dead end. The only signage that tells you anything is all the way up near the swing ride, and it's only a sandwich board with the ride logos on it.

 

Bobbejaan Schoepen was Belgium's singing cowboy. He was very fond of the US Wild West, hence the park originally having a Wild West theme

I recall you telling me that, and it totally makes sense. I still think it's kind of cliche though, but if the guests (and most others) like it, it's obviously working!

 

I didn't realize this park had not one, but two VR coasters. That is definitely something I'll keep in mind when I visit so I can knock those out early.

I didn't wait in the queue for Dream Catcher, but Revolution's half-half split means that the entire line moves slowly and not just the virtual reality line. So, based on how many people are waiting, you might even end up waiting slightly less for the VR experience, since they take the same number of guests for each experience, each dispatch.

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But what's even MORE boring than the Forbidden Caves ride is the wait for Revolution / Mount Mara, Bobbejaanland's indoor coaster and the subject of more than one "WTF" Theme Park Review video.

 

It's (a) roller coaster(s) in a box!

 

The best kind of roller coaster!!!

 

I agree that Bobbejaanland was a great introductory park to the trip. Nice, yet undeniably quirky atmosphere and one great ride supported by a lot of mediocre ones. Kinda reminded me of Kings Island circa 2006.

 

As Andy (Zo) said, I would’ve loved some more time to experience the sketchy giant Ferris wheel or the cute little monorail. But just some reasons to return!

 

Did you get the chance to ride the megalite inside Kinderland?

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Did you get the chance to ride the megalite inside Kinderland?

There was a Mega Lite inside Kinderland and I missed it?!?

 

I also found Fury to be the real surprise hit of the trip. I hope we see a lot more of these start being built!

Fury was so good. It kind of makes me want to go ride some of the others of its type like Karnan, or Junker, or HangTime.

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Episode 2 - "A Quick Romp Through Amsterdam", or, "What I Thought Was A Quick Romp But Actually Wasn't"

 

The official first day of this year's Europe trip was actually a half day, we didn't intend on departing for Efteling until the afternoon. That gave me the chance to experience a little slice of Amsterdam, having had to rush to the hotel the day before.

 

First thing's first - Amsterdam's public transportation systems are ridiculously easy to navigate even as someone who has never had to really use public transportation before. You go up to the kiosk, you get your ticket, you scan to go through the gates, and you board. I've never seen such a seamless experience outside of MagicBands at Walt Disney World. It's too bad that no major cities in the United States seem to have it as good as Amsterdam - the tram cars are swipe in / swipe out, the metro trains are clean, the intercity trains are comfortable... It's like I had stepped foot into a first-world country.

 

I took the train into the city, but sadly without the intention to try out one of the [apparently] amazing coffee shops. Instead, I went somewhere else.

 

DSC_0181_WM.thumb.jpg.f34c8e119c9282af6b412ea598ba8855.jpgI saw some canals...

 

DSC_0189_WM.thumb.jpg.ebedf21ddb93fa276be33c3e2b078f88.jpg...and some architecture...

 

DSC_0196_WM.thumb.jpg.e51abb1526023f9c9e6485a231f4de52.jpg...and some tram cars! Watch the tram car please!

 

After getting off of the tram car and snapping a few photos of the nearby canals, I began a hike that ended up being way longer than I intended it to be...

 

Behold, the Vondelpark!

 

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The park is named after a Dutch playwright, Joost van den Vondel. It's pretty big, 47 hectares. One fun fact is that apparently, you are allowed to have sex in the park during evening hours, so long as it's not near the park's playground, for obvious reasons. If that, plus Amsterdam's red light district, don't convince you of Amsterdam's attitude toward the fun times, then, well, you should probably have your eyes examined.

 

The park itself is just drop dead gorgeous everywhere. There are so many nice places where you can sit down in the shade, or you can take a walk in the rose garden, or just relax on the swaths of open lawns. After a hectic day on the plane to get to Amsterdam and the day at Bobbejaanland, it was nice to just sit down, breathe, and be grateful that I made it to the Netherlands in one piece in the first place.

 

I expected to walk a lot - I probably walked over two and a half miles inside the park and still found new things to see! I was diligent on my time as I was there but there was just a little bit of dread when I realized that I was all the way at the west end of the park and had to make the trek all- the- way- back. It certainly made the bus ride to Efteling much more comfortable.

 

Note: No cyclists, nor redheads, were harmed in the making of this trip report.

 

I'll let the photos speak for themselves... Next time, is it really true that Efteling is better than a Disney park?

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Episode 3 - "Is Efteling Really Better Than a Disney Park?", or, "Don't Take The Flying Dutchman's Dining Sock"

 

The first official park on the trip was a good one - Efteling!

 

As everyone with a pulse knows, the Disney parks are often labeled as the de facto standard for theme parks around the world. Every major theme park has probably been compared to a Disney park at least once by someone, somewhere. Throughout Europe there are a few that are compared to Disney most of all - those include Europa Park and Phantasialand in Germany, PortAventura in Spain... and of course, Efteling, in the Netherlands.

 

Some people think it's better than any Disney park. Some people think it's better than every theme park.

 

My take? Efteling is its own special place, and you should throw those comparisons out the window. Sure, Efteling follows a similar formula to theme parks worldwide - develop attractions based around well-known stories. But Efteling does everything in such a unique way that you can't fathom any other theme park trying to emulate their approach. Whether you believe that their approach works, or is deserving of the hype, well, that's completely up to you!

 

Am I crazy? I sure am! But you should keep reading anyway.

 

After my romp through the Vondelpark, I made it back to the hotel to join the rest of the group, and we headed out to Efteling for that afternoon and evening. We stayed at the on-site Efteling Hotel, which is designed to look like a floating castle. After dropping everything off we were set free into the park.

 

I joined a group and we went straight into Vogel Rok, which I generally enjoyed. We then made our way around the park and paid our respects to Bob with a condolence ride, and I wish Bob a happy retirement. Next was a lap on Python, and then the final highlight of that evening was a first ride on Baron 1898, and I'll get to both of those later. We intended to get a ride on Joris en de Draak as well, but it went down and according to Andy, they were pounding on it all the way up to closing.

 

After a hysterically long drinking game of guessing the capitals of world countries, we turned in, and the next morning, we began our Efteling visit in earnest.

 

We had filming opportunities on four rides that morning! First up was Python.

 

Originally, Efteling was made up completely of the Fairytale Forest walk-through area. But in the late 1970s, someone had the bright idea to turn Efteling into a true theme park, and they needed an attraction to put them on the map. They hired a then newly-independent Vekoma to build their first looping coaster, much to the kicking and screaming of the neighbors. Over the years Python has gotten improvements to its cars, and for last season (2018), Efteling hired Dutch company CSM to completely re-profile the ride from the bottom of the drop to the brake run.

 

The result is... Fine! Python is pretty smooth, but kind of boring. Nevertheless, it is a significant historical coaster for the park and I'm glad they've kept it around.

 

DSC_0377_WM.thumb.jpg.177f66b3701e686600e91fab2ba2d0b7.jpgPython is certainly one of the best-LOOKING Vekoma coasters out there!

 

DSC_0383_WM.thumb.jpg.f486870443e7bd0ec1f6492776aae090.jpgYou can see how Python still uses the original Vekoma track for the lift hill, turn, and first drop. Have I satisfied your craving for nerd shots now?

 

After a few laps on Python, we were informed that Joris en de Draak was repaired and ready for us to ride on.

 

Joris en de Draak is considered by some to be a "junior Lightning Racer" - a racing / dueling Great Coasters wooden coaster. Two dragons, Water and Fire (Vurr) face off, sometimes running side by side, sometimes crossing over each other, and sometimes coming at each other. The winner of each race gets fanfare at the end, including banners dropped in the station as the corresponding train pulls in. It's really neat!

 

While I don't like Joris en de Draak as much as I do Lightning Racer, it's still near the top of my Great Coasters coaster list. The setting is wonderful, the racing and dueling moments are exciting, and the coasters themselves are just plain fun. Never once did I end up with a "wooden coaster headache" after riding.

 

On a sentimental note, it also reminded me of East Coast Bash 2011 at Hersheypark, my first real Theme Park Review experience, when we had evening exclusive ride time on Lightning Racer.

 

DSC_0378_WM.thumb.jpg.ee0ffe22e25e34b34fa5c957c41a58dd.jpgYou see, the REAL question is... Which one is George and which one is the dragon?

 

Third on our filming list was a surprise, the Vliegende Hollander, or Flying Dutchman. Flying Dutchman is a custom water coaster by KumbaK, the Dutch company that we know as providing trains for suspended looping coasters like T3 and Arkham Asylum Shock Therapy.

 

To put it simply it's "scarier Pirates of the Caribbean in roller coaster form", but it's actually a bit different. Instead of bombarding you in the face with animatronic figures and grandiose settings, Flying Dutchman does a lot to establish a sense of creepy, scary ambiance. It also has a surprise before the outdoor coaster section that really caught myself and most others by surprise. Also, for a water ride, the splash doesn't get you all that wet so long as you're sitting in the back half of the boat. It was actually really good!

 

DSC_0365_WM.thumb.jpg.0482211edbf89e46e45db1bac5ffcba8.jpgYo ho, a pirate's life for...wait a second.

 

DSC_0419_WM.thumb.jpg.ae2d3bd5e4f1acf9b38c0e89635ed721.jpgSKLOOOOOOOOSH!

 

Our last filming coaster was to be Baron 1898, but it was down during the morning. Onto other things, we suppose! Let's talk about those dark rides...

 

Fata Morgana is the park's Arabian-themed boat ride. For whatever reason someone (Barry) kept trying to convince me that there was a drop, but it never happened and the payback is later in this photo trip report.

 

Carnival Festival is the park's (formerly more racist, apparently) knockoff of It's A Small World, with a thankfully less catchy tune. Colin and I enjoyed it enough.

 

Villa Volta is one of the few operating Vekoma Mad House rides, and it was my first. It was too disorientating and while I didn't get sick, everyone else can ride those from now on.

 

Dreamflight (Droomvlucht) was Efteling's signature dark ride up from the early 1990s up until 2017. It uses a suspended ride system to fly through some wonderful, completely practical show scenes, to a beautiful music score. I can't really figure out why, but I really, really liked Dreamflight and it still sticks with me. Some people also consider it a credit, too!

 

Symbolica, now Efteling's signature ride, is a really cool trackless dark ride with three variants, and to get the credit, you have to ride all three. A lot of young people in my field gush over Symbolica and like to use it as an example of how Efteling is beginning to steal Disney's lunch money. I definitely think it's on the level of the best dark rides I've ridden at Disney parks, but I have yet to try their truly trackless rides like Mystic Manor and Pooh's Hunny Hunt, so I can't come to a conclusion either way. All I know is that I really liked it as well!

 

DSC_0688_WM.thumb.jpg.f055efec37bd7b96e01d17167483b400.jpgQuick! Let's make up some magic words for the main character to say during the ride! Brilliant!

 

Efteling's comparisons to Disney parks are even more relevant now, because there is now a distinct promenade that leads from the entrance right up to Symbolica, much like Main Street USA leads Disney guests up to their castles, but without the stores and buildings.

 

A group of us also visited Efteling's headlining attraction, the Fairytale Forest. Let's take a look at some highlights...

 

DSC_0491_WM.thumb.jpg.355497e2eb35ecc4f7aedcce4030fd05.jpgHang on here, Monstro, I need to massage your tongue...

 

DSC_0527_WM.thumb.jpg.739bbf92cdaa629c7a4ca980bcd1bbb6.jpgHang on here, mister giant, I just need to steal I MEAN SMELL your feet...

 

DSC_0538_WM.thumb.jpg.d1657bca15830ef62d03c07bbb874b61.jpgHang on here, children, I just need to look shocked until the Americans go away...

 

DSC_0571.thumb.jpg.ca79a0fb774788830d07da81c9d2068b.jpgHang on here, everyone, I just need to make sure you all know that it's longer than average...

 

And of course, the main event, the Magic Donkey!

 

DSC_0506_WM.thumb.jpg.af98c3e440f13fec28f7ab37e14d2fbf.jpgThis brings a whole new meaning to, "put your quarter in and take your turn"...

 

For the uninitiated, when you put fifty cents into the coin slot below the Magic Donkey, it hee-haws, raises its tail, and literally poops out a plastic souvenir coin. It was hilarious to see everyone attempt to grab their coins and I failed pretty spectacularly as well.

 

Seriously though, the Fairytale Forest is awesome and is a HUGE contrast from shows and meet-and-greets at U.S. theme parks. While U.S. theme parks turn shows and experiences into long, drawn out narratives, the Fairytale Forest knows that your time is important. Each little setup is meant to only be seen for three or four minutes tops, before moving onto the next one. It keeps the mind moving and helps when children (and certain redheaded theme park enthusiasts) have the attention spans of rodents. There's really always something cool and interesting to see along every pathway. Plus, it's in a very logical loop so it's difficult to get lost - just keep moving forward and you'll find your way out!

 

There's also a wonderful play area nearby, with an elevated monorail!

 

DSC_0592_WM.thumb.jpg.e592ec24e747335b1b374b2c3e43a6a6.jpgThis probably the most gorgeous play area I've ever seen and I just wanted to sit and relax for the entire day.

 

DSC_0595_WM.thumb.jpg.d4b582e8bf4511135e506ee084be330e.jpgIt's so well-hidden, so secluded... It's really blink and you miss it.

 

DSC_0588.thumb.jpg.eb6f46e704b4dbec1bd86b04eca33c4e.jpgDaniel and Andy having a moment on the see-saw.

 

I eventually broke off to take some more photos in the area around Joris en de Draak, the Gondoletta, and Baron 1898. As I was over on the opposite side of Baron 1898's layout, I saw the wheel at the top of the lift turn, and, sure enough, they had started cycling trains!

 

I put on my best "man on the street" hat and kept watch, and sure enough, Baron 1898 opened back up to guests. The park's management was wonderful - they still let us film on the ride! They had a really great strategy of keeping two trains for guests and one for us, so that normal operations weren't disturbed from our filming session.

 

DSC_0423_WM.thumb.jpg.1319e929640f8ababa84842c1c60213b.jpgSo, which is the more appropriate caption? "DON'T LOOK DOWN" or "TAKE THE TUNNEL"?

 

I really liked Baron 1898. The theming was wonderful. I understood the pre-show even without the language barrier. The first sequence where the ghost ladies get scary and possess the mine shaft lift to start the lift hill is probably the best single themed roller coaster moment I've ever experienced and it works SO well. You get some excellent hang-over while being held at the top of the drop, and the zero-G roll is really fun. It's in the top tier of my coaster rankings because it's such a good complete experience.

 

After nearly a full day of exploring, we were corralled back toward Dreamflight and Villa Volta to see Efteling's stunt show, Raveleijn!

 

Raveleijn (that's "rav-ell-ein") is a story-based stunt show that involves a group of kids turned knights who fight the bad guys to save the princess, who, in the end, turns out to not be the best person herself. Of course, throughout the show, there are crazy things that happen such as...

 

DSC_0663_WM.thumb.jpg.82c0d7978eb67885b80af19be58415ca.jpgHORSE! ON! FIIIEEEE-AAAAHHHHH!

 

DSC_0676_WM.thumb.jpg.c33228bc3dd07b9ef0e2fe7d39de703e.jpgDragon! On fire and steam and water and unicorn farts and and donkey coins!

 

Later in the evening, we got to check out Aquanura, the park's fountain show, and unfortunately my camera battery ran out! Quite frankly though, I don't really see the appeal of Aquanura. The fountains look nice for sure, but the music they set the show to was a set of electronic dance remixes of the ride themes throughout the park. Now, I love EDM, but I did not like the Aquanura remix AT ALL. It reeked of the "bad" kind of EDM which doesn't really have anything other than a pulsing beat.

 

It was okay though, because the show was still pretty decent and was a nice capstone to our day and a half at the park.

 

Enjoy some more photos!

 

DSC_0374_WM.thumb.jpg.83ebc48650fd8baaaadb4ffc7695f46e.jpgMost of the trash bins at Efteling are actually characters, where you place your trash in a certain place, such as the cannon here or in a character's mouth. They basically shout at you to put trash in, and thank you when you eventually do.

 

DSC_0628_WM.thumb.jpg.953043489220ba8cd4d2a9c9f9b87325.jpgHere's another cool section of the park with some rides and the Efteling museum. If you look closely you'll see a fellow photography nerd in there somewhere, but I've heard he's a little more slick behind the camera than I am.

 

DSC_0613_WM.thumb.jpg.13fa9357e4926e8d6592758a2625f81b.jpgSo, remember when I said that Python had some trouble because of Efteling's neighbors? That's because Efteling is right up against the village of Kaatsheuvel and its surrounding areas. I've heard that potential noise pollution is a huge issue with these people whenever Efteling wants to build something new. You can choose the side you're on with THAT one.

 

DSC_0720_WM.thumb.jpg.d7a7071e2f894fac0268fd8ebedbfb4b.jpgBaron 1898 looping and swooping. It IS really good.

 

DSC_0694_WM.thumb.jpg.b2d5aa62d0f4f1ad516c651d45cddee1.jpgHere's something interesting. Efteling knew that people were going to be able to see the roof of the Symbolica show building from the Pagode observation tower, so they went through the extra effort to make the roof look nice. That sort of thing takes Efteling up a few more notches in my book and I can appreciate it as a designer in the theme park business.

 

DSC_0736_WM.thumb.jpg.1e6b90d10330bfd21f54e660b86bee6e.jpgOnce you go up, there's only one way down...

 

DSC_0761_WM.thumb.jpg.2dd430b66834b4fa81997dfb4f9736ca.jpgOne perfectly-framed promenade, and one perfectly-bored dad.

 

DSC_0763_WM.thumb.jpg.498871e4368daba88f6198c4e182e34c.jpgI really do like this place. A whole lot. While I don't think that it's my favorite theme park in the world, I do get where the hype comes from and I certainly don't think it's overrated! It's wonderful, and special, and that's why it matters to me.

 

Random thoughts and musings:

 

  • Funny story, I know a lot of people just adore the park entrance and their trips to Efteling aren't complete without a photo of it from the parking lot, but I actually completely forgot about it! That last photo was the only one I took of the entrance.
  • Stroopwafels and Pofferjes are AMAZING and I absolutely have to find somewhere near me that makes them even close to as well as the ones I had at Efteling.
  • The Steam Carousel was...interesting. Certainly some historical value there, but it really didn't feel like a traditional carousel to me. Perhaps that's the point?
  • Efteling is MASSIVE and the walk from our viewing location for Aquanura back to the Efteling Hotel rear park entrance is probably most difficult slog I've ever done at a theme park.
  • The Raveleijn dinner after the show was absolutely delightful and really tasty. Bonus points to the chicken catchers.
  • A lot of people like to call Baron 1898 the best themed roller coaster in the world. Going off of what I said before, I personally think it's one of the best complete experiences I've ever seen built around an outdoor roller coaster. There are some that may have better rockwork (like Taron) or a better queue (like Expedition Everest), but, in it's own way, it can go toe-to-toe with some of the best themed roller coasters out there.
  • Apparently I was less than two seconds away from completely steamrolling a small child as I came down one of the slides at the playground. Also, apparently, Daniel and Andy found it hilarious.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Next time - getting injured at Toverland!

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^^ Great Efteling TR! And I think that the solar paneled roof of Symbolica is one of The Most Beautifully Themed Roofs I've ever seen! Looking forward to your take on Toverland - and hope you didn't get toooo injured, there.

Edited by Nrthwnd
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I feel that Symbolica really helped the park become less 'overhyped' in my eyes!

Agreed. I've been to Efteling many times now since 2002 and I had always felt the park seemed VERY "overhyped" but it has most certainly grown on me over the years and the new ride most absoultely helped.

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Got some great pictures of the coasters, and several angles I didn't find! Nice work!

 

Flying Dutchman does a lot to establish a sense of creepy, scary ambiance. It also has a surprise before the outdoor coaster section that really caught myself and most others by surprise.

 

I love the indoor section of that ride. As a coaster, it's meh, but the dark ride portion is so good.

 

It was hilarious to see everyone attempt to grab their coins and I failed pretty spectacularly as well.

 

The donkey has some, er, consistency problems, and most of us failed because of it!

 

Apparently I was less than two seconds away from completely steamrolling a small child as I came down one of the slides at the playground. Also, apparently, Daniel and Andy found it hilarious.

 

Kid shouldn't have been standing at the end of the slide!!!

 

... you'll see a fellow photography nerd in there somewhere, but I've heard he's a little more slick behind the camera than I am.

 

I hear he's usually trying to stay out of photos, but that's near-impossible on a TPR trip, so even he gives up after a while.

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Flying Dutchman does a lot to establish a sense of creepy, scary ambiance. It also has a surprise before the outdoor coaster section that really caught myself and most others by surprise.

 

I love the indoor section of that ride. As a coaster, it's meh, but the dark ride portion is so good.

 

Meh?! That’s some of the best almost airtime I’ve ever experienced!!

 

Apparently I was less than two seconds away from completely steamrolling a small child as I came down one of the slides at the playground. Also, apparently, Daniel and Andy found it hilarious.

 

Definitely a highlight moment of the trip for me. Thanks for the reminder!

 

Great coverage of Efteling, AJ! I’d repeat this park (again) in a heartbeat! Super unique and fun, even without the most stellar ride collection in the world.

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Thanks for the good words everyone! I love writing these things...

 

I feel that Symbolica really helped the park become less 'overhyped' in my eyes!

Symbolica was really good. I loved how nearly all of the ride was practical sets, and screens were only used when it made sense for the story (like the mirror scene). The musical score was really nice too, and the pre-show was one of those "you have to see it in person" moments.

 

Got some great pictures of the coasters, and several angles I didn't find! Nice work!

Thanks friend! I honestly felt myself getting better at it as the trip went along (except for the Energylandia day because reasons).

 

I love the indoor section of that ride. As a coaster, it's meh, but the dark ride portion is so good.

 

Meh?! That’s some of the best almost airtime I’ve ever experienced!!

Aha, there's one of the trip themes. I was wondering when that would come up again! The almost airtime on Flying Dutchman was pretty good but I also preferred the surprise in the indoor section.

 

And I think that the solar paneled roof of Symbolica is one of The Most Beautifully Themed Roofs I've ever seen!

It actually makes me wonder how much of the ride is actually powered by that solar array. The roof is an interesting contrast to say, what we'll probably see of EPCOT's France pavilion show buildings while riding the Disney Skyliner.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm way late with this one. A lot of unfortunate life circumstances and a hurricane that never actually got to our part of the state have screwed all of my plans / days up. Hopefully I can get back on track here...

 

Episode 4 - "Turning Toverland Upside-down", or, "If You Don't Get Injured You're Not Doing It Right"

 

The third day of the Europe trip took us to, basically the middle of nowhere. But there happened to be a theme park in the middle of this nowhere! It's Toverland!

 

DSC_0776_WM.thumb.jpg.8de3e0b9bb34ea4a44f198168ef88905.jpgThe new entrance, and the new logo, fitting with Toverland's pivot to a true fantasy-themed park.

 

Toverland is, quite simply, one of the most unique theme parks I've ever visited. Efteling is great, some of the later parks on the trip are great, but there is just so much to talk about when it comes to Toverland. So I shall!

 

For those of you that don't know, Toverland started life as a strictly indoor family entertainment center, because the park's owner wanted to get around the cold weather seasons and operate in some capacity all year. Toverland got popular and started to expand, and recently, they've set their aspirations on becoming a world-class European theme park, with a goal of one million annual visitors. They're getting there, for sure - in 2018, they had over 800 thousand!

 

DSC_0774_WM.thumb.jpg.5567195efd7336a74d4371e889d857f2.jpgTroy (TROY!!!) is now one of the prettiest parking lot coasters in the world. But it's still a parking lot coaster.

 

For our group, a lot of us didn't know what to expect. Some of us, like myself, were experiencing Toverland for the first time. But for others, it was the first time they had seen the park since their most recent expansion, so it was almost like seeing a brand new park!

 

We arrived and met up with Hanno (Hhappy) who was joining us for this park and the next. But when we got there, we weren't sure what to do! Eventually, Robb and Hanno found the park's new main entrance, and then they found the management.

 

DSC_0784_WM.thumb.jpg.0a4f32f9d2f21ca2df0a6afa3bf091db.jpgIt's a true arrival experience! I've come to understand that it was inspired by the Port of Entry at Islands of Adventure in Florida.

 

The management took us back for some filming on Fenix, the park's new B&M wing coaster. We all got a whole bunch of rides, and Andy even got a "zen ride", where he got to have an entire train completely to himself!

 

DSC_0821_WM.thumb.jpg.f36148d97fb91317559de5b5ad6e0693.jpgPhoenix phlies! I mean... Fenix flies.

 

Fenix is pretty fun, though not as fun as that other Phoenix I really like! It was my first wing coaster with a dive drop. The hill after the drop actually gives some decent airtme, and the spiral after the Immelman was pretty intense! Plus, unlike Wild Eagle, the vest harnesses allow for some slack, which means your lungs won't get crushed during the ride. The seats were comfortable, and secure, though having not ridden many wing coasters I often found my legs inadvertently hitting the safety bars attached to the inside seats.

 

DSC_0800_WM.thumb.jpg.f82df9d6e96a3973938420ee77e83d2a.jpgIt's so GAW-GIUS.

 

But really, what makes Fenix awesome is its setting. Fenix is part of Toverland's most recent themed expansion, Avalon. The entire area is decked out in intricate rockwork, fantastical theming, Disney-style forced perspective, and lush foliage absolutely everywhere.

 

DSC_0826_WM.thumb.jpg.a3e15a7337d8cc2bf787486a2311cc56.jpgYou can't climb the tower, but you can admire it.

 

After our quick filming session on Fenix, the park was opened and we were just sort of set loose. Groups split up, while Robb and Hanno went around the park getting new footage on all of the rides. I sort of floated between groups.

 

The other attraction in Avalon is Merlin's Quest! It's two-thirds outdoor boat ride, one-third indoor dark ride. I had literally zero idea what was going on, but neither did anyone else, so I didn't feel bad.

 

DSC_0832_WM.thumb.jpg.86857c9bf6f4652e821f9e9d91e8f758.jpgYou can also catch a great establishing view of the Flaming Feather restaurant. I absolutely adore green / living roofs!

 

Next stop was D'wervelwind and, help us all, that thing is nuts.

 

DSC_0871_WM.thumb.jpg.b65b1af390d0b20b2d898c8addf81acf.jpgI wish I could stop gushing over how pretty (almost) all of the coasters are around here, but you're just going to have to deal with it.

 

Everyone says, "oh, it's just a Mack spinner, what could go wrong", and let me tell you, everything did. For one thing, I had no idea which direction the train was facing in the station platform, so I got in the back car thinking it was the front. And then, in the back car, you get whipped and dragged over every hill and turn. Plus, if you end up in an unbalanced car like I was, you spin and spin and spin! All while some interesting magical fantasy soundtrack plays out of speakers right in front of your lap bar!

 

Ten out of ten. Best ride. Best ride. We did it multiple times and I regretted it every single time after the fact, but I don't regret it now.

 

DSC_0927_WM.thumb.jpg.e20f79aa96d29ccf5a0331b3a02abaf7.jpgTheme park, or real life fantasy meadow? It's like the rides don't even exist.

 

Next on our checklist was Booster Bike. Booster Bike is the first Vekoma motorbike coaster, a system which originally saw use in smaller parks but has since gotten a big upgrade in the two Tron Lightcycle coasters at Disney parks in Florida and China.

 

Originally the ride was just themed to motorbikes (obviously), but then they decided to put eyeball stickers on the fronts of each seat and play fairy dust sound effects before the launch. I guess that makes it fantasy-themed now?

 

DSC_1049_WM.thumb.jpg.459840c27734bcef994dc3f98f401be8.jpgGreetings, programs!

 

It was fine. Much like Python has for Efteling, Booster Bike has a bit of historical significance for Toverland so it's worth keeping around. It certainly looks gorgeous, with all of the theming around it now.

 

Finally in the outdoor area, we have Troy (TROY!!!). For many years Troy was considered to be the best coaster to come out of Great Coasters, but it's since been beaten out by Knight Valley's mountain wooden coaster, and others.

 

DSC_0965_WM.thumb.jpg.fc1abc6abd461176f2c2fe3644054614.jpgTroy is probably the only attraction in the park besides the ropes course to still be surrounded by mainly flat, open land. It could really use some screening to bring it in line with Fenix and D'wervelwind.

 

Here comes an unpopular opinion! I actually liked Joris en de Draak better than Troy! The station fly-by was great and there were some cool pops of air, but I didn't get a whole lot out of Troy. An interesting thing happened though - as we were waiting in the station, the operations folks dropped from two-train operation to one-train. We could actually see them run the second train through the circuit, stop it on the transfer table, and actually push the table to the side so that the first train could run like normal again. The whole process only took a few minutes!

 

DSC_0882_WM.thumb.jpg.e8534a44e8a7f0fc8a8305271182c5fc.jpgThe wild Ryan stares at the wooden coaster, contemplating his existence.

 

Now, let's take a walk inside...

 

DSC_0889_WM.thumb.jpg.b92bb310ba597ea86705f7b7dc140e3b.jpgToverland's original bread-and-butter were its indoor areas and its amazing playgrounds. Is it socially acceptable for adults to play on these? Does it even matter? Just go have fun!

 

We first made a stop inside the Wunderwald building, the park's first indoor expansion. We immediately headed over to Maximus' Blitz Bahn, the park's Bobkart attraction.

 

Bobkarts are basically powered alpine slides. The vehicle runs in an open trough and you can control its speed. Unfortunately, Blitz Bahn ended up being the longest wait of the day - I believe we waited at least a half hour for it. That being said, I finally got to ride a Bobkart! I've been wanting to ride one of those for years and it was totally worth it!

 

DSC_0913_WM.thumb.jpg.679de64ff827735d89e2bc5a4b51c162.jpgUp, down, left, right, forward, backward... This flume has it.

 

Staying in the same area, we putted over to Expedition Zork, the log flume. Expedition Zork (nee Backstroke) is one of those interesting log flumes that uses turntables to change the directions of the logs. You turn backwards at the top of the first lift, go over the first drop backward, turn forwards in the middle of the second lift, turn ninety degrees at the highest point, and go over the largest drop facing forward. Plus, it runs both indoors and outdoors! It was really fun and even when you ride in the front (like I did) you don't get wet enough to have soggy socks all day.

 

DSC_1036_WM.thumb.jpg.d7193050b56c89979a1978588ff6cf81.jpgOn some log flumes like this one, the splash channel is actually elevated above the main water source.

 

We moved over to the Land von Toos building to satisfy the needs of the credit whores on the trip and took a spin on Toos Express, one of the park's original attractions and a custom Vekoma junior coaster. For what it was it was actually really fun and we got two laps!

 

DSC_0919_WM.thumb.jpg.410760f13612eebfcac70dc2bb08c391.jpgNo, Toos Express is not on the Coaster Poll. No, we won't be adding it.

 

The group I was with then wandered back over to Avalon to try out the new Flaming Feather restaurant. I had a really good burger there! We were then informed we were leaving early, so I bugged out of the restaurant to poke around Fenix and take some photos.

 

DSC_0852_WM.thumb.jpg.510a1e48d670146b8185c1789f5a63c0.jpgOf course, I had to get another one of the Flaming Feather because it's probably my favorite theme park restaurant I've ever seen, at least in terms of architecture.

 

With time winding down I ran over to the ropes course, but unfortunately there wasn't enough time for me to participate. I found some others and patiently waited for the rest of the group to take their turns. I was certainly not disappointed, as there were a wide range of emotions from the ropes course crew, including...

 

DSC_0987.thumb.jpg.640e81d1fbdec26f35be46cd81a793c5.jpgConfidence...

 

DSC_1001.thumb.jpg.64bd0ed898a6dd2f31a2b4972a27869a.jpgDetermination...

 

DSC_1006.thumb.jpg.541ef6296f07a4fb0f86c05864a45c16.jpgDramaticism...

 

DSC_1030.thumb.jpg.6bb2a35bd3b4589b3e320ecf636bf38b.jpg...and regret.

 

And that was it for Toverland! I freaking loved this place. It's probably the most unique theme park I've ever been to, and I say that even after experiencing all of the other parks on the trip. Toverland isn't even twenty years old, and yet, here they are, growing and changing into something beyond the scope of their original vision. The staff and management were so good to us, and despite us visiting on a summer Saturday, crowds were beyond manageable. If I were to make a "bonus" stop in the Netherlands before another trip, I'm honestly not sure which park I would go to! They're all so cool!

 

Enjoy some more photos...

 

DSC_0827_WM.thumb.jpg.d0dc052a467eb9b422d15be7188fef25.jpgThese rides may be brand new, but they look like they've belonged here for years.

 

DSC_0935_WM.thumb.jpg.6df022e1def2dccf293285eb4d262390.jpgDive! Dive! Dive!

 

DSC_0940_WM.thumb.jpg.28094efc3afb34e1c38f5861e6b82659.jpgI wish I could get this close to roller coasters in the United States without signing a "you might die and we won't be held responsible" waiver.

 

DSC_0947_WM.thumb.jpg.03ca50ed696fa60f8de213d8881b1064.jpgBridge to Toverland.

 

DSC_0978_WM.thumb.jpg.c8974d09081483d144f980628f3ccefd.jpgSo, how exactly did this park look ten years ago again?

 

DSC_0896_WM.thumb.jpg.139c30c367977b4b2dd4d29216305e2a.jpgOnly a few of us were able to keep up with Kristen on this thing. I was one of those people, though not without a big bruise on my calf. Elissa told us that if you don't get injured at Toverland you're not doing it right, so, successful rite of passage for me!

 

DSC_1044_WM.thumb.jpg.a8d22f428226e1fb8e1c93051947d4b8.jpgNormally you don't want theming from other areas to be seen from where you're standing, as it breaks immersion. However, all of Toverland's themes work so well together, so it fits!

 

DSC_0967_WM.thumb.jpg.2b0ba5a6781be055bc67fe7f46b0b66c.jpgHow about some stealth marketing?

 

DSC_0868_WM.thumb.jpg.b2bb8c0e4843fff8f078f9f69010b2c7.jpgEven the indoor building fits right in!

 

Thoughts and musings:

 

  • Weirdly, I rarely rode any of the park's coasters more than once, with the exceptions being Fenix (for morning filming) and D'wervelwind (twice total). I guess I was just so enthralled by taking everything in! I even missed some areas like further inside the Land von Toos, and further in the Magische Vallei area near the rafting ride. More fun for next time!
  • I know that generally things in Europe are better than the United States, but the stairs in the park, especially in the Fenix queue / platform, were ridiculous. They were steep, narrow, and slippery. I know I'm young and shouldn't be complaining but there were a few times were I almost tripped and fell down.
  • Of course, I'm obsessed with the number of playgrounds and play areas in the park. It's part of what makes it so unique.
  • I was recently doing some research on the park for another project, and going back to see Theme Park Review's visit from 2005 in the park index. It's astounding how much this park has changed. What used to be an open field behind Booster Bike is now a wonderful landscaped themed area and I just love it.
  • Do I think that Toverland will be on the level of Efteling in terms of attendance in ten years? I'm not sure. But I absolutely think that they will break one million visitors, and sooner than you think. I have so little bad things to say about the park. They may not have anything that would make us go nuts with excitement, but everything in the park is so lovely and it makes it a wonderful place to spend time.

 

Thanks for reading! Next time... Walibi Holland, The Grafitti Lover's Paradise!

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Wonderfully detailed report. All the indoor areas look very cool, and the theming seems to be truly top-notch. I know I pretty much reiterated what you just said, but great job! It's a long shot, but I'd love to visit someday.

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Great report! It's incredible to see how much this park has grown. And from my visit last month, I'd say they're on track for that visitor mark. Everything had a full queue when I was there!

 

IMG_9205.thumb.JPG.c3feae50d9d7684c0a21253c9f13357e.JPG

This was Booster Bike's line. All switchbacks were filled and the line ran down the midway.

 

I agree Joris was surprisingly better than Troy. I always heard Troy was the best GCI, but I found it more towards the middle of the pack (still good though).

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