In July 2016 we began a mini European trip consisting of Efteling, Movie Park Germany, Dusseldorf Rheinkirmes, Phantasialand, Walibi Holland and Toverland!
First on our list of travels was Efteling in the Netherlands! We drove to Efteling from Eindhoven, it was about a 30 – 40 minute drive to the park which greets you with this amazing entrance structure!
Inside this thatched set of three spires is the park’s main entrance, ticket kiosks, and other miscellaneous services. We picked up our tickets and made our way inside the park. (Efteling also has one of the most intricately themed ATM’s i’ve ever seen!)
Efteling is described as a fantasy themed amusement park and the attractions are based on elements from ancient myths, legends, fairy tales, fables, and folklore. The whole park follows this consistent background theme but also splits off into separate areas. From the entrance, the park has a large central pathway that leads into the centre of the park. on the left-hand side is the Marerijk area which consists of a winding labyrinth of paths with models of famous folklore tales, with several of them being animated.
We continued to the end and turned right which led us past a lake home to a scenic two boat ride and found ourselves at the park’s newest thrill machine: Baron 1898, which would be our first ride of the day!
Baron 1898 is a Bolliger & Mabillard Dive Coaster that opened in 2015 at a cost of 18,000,000 EUR. The ride’s backstory is as follows (Thanks to Wikipedia):
In 1898, the wealthy baron Gustave Hooghmoed (whose last name is a variation on the Dutch word Hoogmoed, which loosely translated means haughty or overconfident) is led to discover a nearby cave that is rich in gold deposits by a spirit known as the Witte Wieven (“Wise women”, “Dames Blanches” or “White ladies”); however, this spirit gives Hooghmoed the admonition that if he disturbs the gold in any way, he will suffer terrible consequences for the remainder of his life. In an attempt to circumvent the spirit’s threat, Hoogmoed presses the destitute locals into working in his newly opened gold mine, where many of the workers suffer catastrophic accidents or are chased out of the cave by the “Witte Wieven” and her supernatural cohorts.
After the Baron is called out of his office to tend to an emergency in the mine shaft, mine overseer Laars will help guests into his specially designed mine elevator vehicles that are capable of traveling both vertically and horizontally. After the guests board the special mine cars, Laars and the machine shop are suddenly attacked by vengeful spirits of miners who have previously vanished under the influence of the “Witte Wieven”. Before Laars’s office apparently explodes, he sends the miners out of the mine; as the car ascends, a giant fireball bursts from the opening of the machine shop and almost reaches the rear car of the train. As the train is about to leave the mine, it stops as the “Witte Wieven” can be heard singing from the pit, from which smoke pours and lights can be seen. After a few seconds, the “Witte Wieven” scream, “You shall not evade my curse! Prepare to forfeit your lives!” as the miners plunge down the exit of the mine.
We queued around 45 minutes to 1 hour and finally entered the main building in order to experience the first of several preshow rooms. I won’t spoil what happens but it does contain some pretty clever projection techniques. The coaster’s layout is rather simple by way of the lift, vertical drop, Immelman, inline twist, helix and finally into the break run. It’s a very fun ride but unfortunately very short. Fun fact: This is the only B&M Dive coaster that does not turn at the top of the lift before the drop.
A short walk from Baron is De Vliegender Hollander (translates to The Flying Dutchman). This actually ended up being my favourite ride at the park. It is a water coaster built by KumBak Coasters. It’s also my favourite type of water coaster, one that you don’t get wet on!
The rides queue starts outside and on this day took about 45 minutes. You make your way into the front of the building and through a series of intricately themed queue rooms all leading up to the main station area. The stations theming is stunning. It’s one of my favourite themed stations i’ve ever seen. From the soundtrack to the faux night sky above, the atmosphere and style are just perfected.
You board your boat which seats up to 14 people per boat and away you go. The ride has a sort of “Pirates of the Caribbean” vibe to start but then turns rather dark. Before you know it a huge ghost ship looms over you and you climb the lift. A couple of surprises later and you find yourself crusing the outdoor coaster part of the circuit before heading to the final splashdown into the lake for all to see. I really enjoyed this ride and highly highly reccommend it!
Up next we decided to check out the two racing GCI (Great Coasters International) wooden coasters – Joris en de Draak (George and the Dragon). This ride opened in 2010 and replaced the aging Pegasus wooden roller coaster that occupied the same spot. To me, this ride felt slightly underwhelming compared to other GCI coasters I have ridden. This is not to say the ride is bad by any means as it was very fun, just that you should treat it as a smaller woodie that the whole family can enjoy together. The highlight of it was the racing aspect. It’s always run as a racing coaster and they make a competition out of it by cheering on the winners and booing the loosers as the trains reenter the station after each ride. The winners station also has winning flags dropped down at this point as well. It’s a really nice touch!
In the centre of the ride stands the mighty dragon. It’s an audio animatronic that breathes fire and also slaps its tail in the water sending up a fountain of water that it timed to wet the riders on the “Water” side of the coaster. Talking of side, the sides are named “Fire” and “Water” and you get to choose what side you wish to ride just before you climb the stairs to the platforms. I personally preferred the Fire side. It’s full of typical GCI airtime goodness and is a very very fun ride to ride. Riding three times I thought I would have had a good chance of being on the winning train at least once but luck wasn’t on my side this trip as we lost all three times!
Next to try out was Python. Python is a Vekoma corkscrew coaster with two loops and two corkscrews. The wait was a long one due to single train operation on that day. It was nice to see it was running new trains with Vekoma’s new vest style restraint but it did not seem to help the ride experience. It was pretty rough in parts but on a positive side the ride visually looks great nestled in with De Vliegender Hollander and Joris en de Draak.
After a coffee and a snack from a nearby outlet we continued our exploration around the park, taking in some of the sights and the superbly landscaped gardens.
We found ourselves facing Vogel Rok. I had no clue what type of ride it was, apart from knowing it was a roller coaster of some sort. The queue looked very inconspicuous from the outside but once inside you get to the top of a set of stairs and “Wow! that’s a lot of people!”.
The ride is a non inverting indoor coaster that simulates the flight of the Vogel bird. It was a nice fun family ride and rode silky smooth as well. After Vogel Rok we located Villa Volta. Villa Volta had always intregued me so I was excited to finally get to try it. The preshow seemed to go on for ages but that might have been due to not knowing the language! What surprised me here was how light it was inside the main ride. Most of these “Mad-house” style rides are pretty dark and dingy but this was was bright and well lit. It made for a nice variation but other than that was a standard mad house affair.
We made our way through some lovely landscaped areas around this side of the park which housed many childrens rides, over to our next ride: Droomvlucht. This is the parks signature dark ride. You can tell that it is one of the park’s older rides but it’s still very well done. The name translates to Dreamflight and it describes the experience pretty well. It opened in 1993 after failing to open in the same year as Disneyland Paris in 1992. The ride vehicles are pretty basic theme wise but can be described as suspended versions of Disney’s Haunted Mansion Doom Buggies.
The ride takes you past various scenes of fairies, castles, forests and other fairy-tale creatures with a backdrop of fairytale music. The ride’s finale is a huge downward spiral around the edge of a forest. You do seem to pretty much coast the entire way, but no, it’s not a coaster!
After riding Droomvlucht we continued our tour around the edge of the park by ending up in the centre pretty much back where we started. This area will be the site of next years brand new dark ride: Symbolica. Not much is know about it but I can be pretty much sure it will be a ride not to be missed!
We knew that we still had the final remaining coaster to ride so we headed off to locate it in a wooded area. Bob is an Intamin Bobsled and one of the older coasters that Efteling has. This ride, like other Intamin bobsleds has the weird drifting sensation as you speed round the corners. It can make you feel a bit nervous when the back end of the car drifts out when your not expecting it, especially if you’ve ridden any of the Mack bobsleds as those do not do that.
To the right hand side of the park entrance is Fata Morgana. This is a tow boat ride based around 1001 Arabian Nights. It’s quite a long ride, coming in at 8 minutes long. It’s home to a wide variety of animatronic figures and I enjoyed the use of opening and closing curtains over the boats course to hide the upcoming scenes. The ride has a pretty cool musical soundtrack too.
After Fata Morgana, we headed back into the heart of the park and came across Efteling’s Spooky Castle called Spookslot. I had entirely no idea what this was and by the end there was no way I could have even guessed! It was weird but strangely fun. I think the best thing to do is just watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9KGLtcUa2Y
After the quirkiness of Spookslot we just wandered around the park and decided to ride Pagode. This is a type of ride called a Flying Island, it’s made by Intamin and there are not a huge number of them around so they are fun to ride when you get the chance. The overall experience is pretty similar to a normal observation tower apart from this one as the cabin mounted on one end of a giant arm which rotates up taking you with it. Also, you are not stuck behind a sheet of plexi-glass either! From up the top you get some stunning vies of Efteling and the surrounding area, plus a small sneak peak of the awaiting parts of Symbolica.
A wander back over to the main coaster area of Efteling and a few more rides on De Vliegende Hollander and Joris en de Draak before we made our way to the main entrance as it was nearing the parks 8pm closing time.
The park did have an amazing music, fountain and fire display over the lake which put a nice finale to everyone’s day. After the show we made our way out to return to our hotel and off for more fun at Movie Park Germany which is coming up next time!