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15th - 19th April - Efteling/ Toverland/ Efteling TR

vaugc002

Member
Aged 26, I finally managed to plan and execute a proper theme park trip. My tour started in The Netherlands and finished with Germany, running from Efteling to Toverland and to Phantasialand. It’s a pretty well-documented route but I’ll add my two cents for you to enjoy/ ignore as you wish.

I made the trip with a guy called Alex -- he had been to a few more parks than me but we're both at the same enthusiast level I'd say. We flew to Amsterdam to begin our trip (London Gatwick is closest to us and direct flights to Efteling’s nearest airport cannot be booked from Gatwick so Amsterdam it was). From Amsterdam airport, we took a fast train straight to Tilburg – a journey of little more than an hour. Then it was a short car ride over to Kaatsheuvel where our Airbnb was based for the night. I’ll run through each park below, with a little overview and ride ratings because who doesn’t love a good rating?

Efteling

This was our first park of the trip, situated just a fifteen-minute walk from the house. I have to say the entrance is amazing – although we barely had time to register it was we raced through the turnstiles to enter the park. From a glance at the map, the park seemed gigantic, and very green. I later realised it wasn’t as large as first thought but was certainly on a scale of Alton Towers as opposed to Thorpe Park let’s just say for ease. It was a beautiful park in the end and actually rather ‘magical’, although that word is thrown around a lot too much to be honest. Lots of gardens and walk-through attractions made t hugely family-friendly, and a continual dedication to quality of the attractions made it a pretty excellent all-round park. Although not my favourite of the trip.


Symbolica

The ride looks stunning from the outside – a sort of variant of a Disney castle set on a rocky outcrop. The clever use of forced perspective made it seem quite impressive in size, although closer up you realise it’s not as vast as it first seems. This is an ETF Trackless ride, and my first of such a ride type. Themed to some sort of royal fairy tale, you embark via a motorised car and head through an excellently-themed journey. It’s relatively low on thrills, and I cannot say it was worth the 35 million Euro investment, but it’s a clever attraction and very well-suited to the park. 7/10



Baron 1898

I consider Oblivion to be one of my favourite ride experiences so had high hopes for this. It’s absolutely stunning to look at as you approach, with a huge Steampunk tower full of spinning cogs and wheels and a classic smoky pit for the train to dive into. The queue is also fab, with a clever pre-ride show that really sets the scene. We rode front row first and back row second, and I was really rather impressed. The drop was exactly how I remembered Oblivion’s to be, and the later elements, while rather small, were pretty forceful. A very well-conceived, compact ride. 8/10


Python

Python had its virtual queueing going but it was walk-on so it was pretty much redundant, The ride sounded very smooth and I reassured my friend that it would be although he wasn’t trusting my word. It turned out to be very smooth and had some decent forces. Let’s be honest though, the layout is pretty uninspiring compared with the rides of today, and it just wasn’t very exciting. 6/10

Joris and Draak

These two duelling woodies were only my third and fourth wooden rollercoaters ever so I was truly excited. They looked pretty impressive from across the lake, and the station really builds the excitement, with cheering sounds emanating from all around when the winning train rolls in (curiously I only ever saw one side win so I guess it was rigged?). We took a back seat, then a front, then a back again on both sides just to get a proper idea of the ride. I adored it. The initial drop was really pretty steep, lifting you out of the seat and the layout that followed is fast and furious, with small dips, hops and intense corners. I didn’t find the duelling aspect that great to be honest, but both coasters were really good fun. 8.2/10

De Vliegende Hollander

This is another first for me - a water coaster. @Lofty had told me how amazing the station was and it really was great – a magnificently atmospheric seaside scene, where you board a lantern-lit boat and head out into the darkness of the sea. The pre-ride section was actually kinda terrifying, with mist rolling in and a few surprises. As you climb the lift, the music reaches a crescendo and it’s just epic. Then you drop out of the tower and the ride just fails. It’s basically forceless and so clunky, ending with a splashdown that barely gets you wet. What a shame! 5/10


Bob

I’ve experienced the vibratey Trace du Hourra at Parc Asterix so didn’t have much anticipation for Bob. It turned out to be worse than expected in my opinion. Sitting in the back seat, each transition shook you with a real bump. By the end I wasn’t really enjoying the experience. Not for me. 4/10

Vogel Rok

We had no idea what to expect with this one. The building didn’t look too impressive in terms of size so we didn’t have high hopes. The entrance was truly awesome though – with apparently the world’s largest bird statue or something (?!). We sat at the front and got ready for an X:// No Way Out experience. However, we were really wrong. With wind effects, near-misses with swooping birds and a dramatic soundtrack, we came off the ride shook. It had felt really quite fast, with lots of nice dives and twists. An excellent surprise! 8/10


There are too many other rides to mention. There wasn’t really anything for the thrill seeker aside from the coaster selection, but honourable mentions go to the fab viewing tower, the well-executed not-quite-Hex Mad House, and the dreamy Droomvlucht darkride which was truly impressive and picked up a fair bit of speed at one point. We left the park after getting typically lost in the fairytale forest and both agreed it was an excellent ark, with beautiful attractions for all the family. But it needed a true standout coaster. Maybe the planned ride for 2020 will be just that.

Toverland

Next stop – Toverland. We took a train from Tilburg to tiny Horst-Sevenum, , where our next Airbnb host picked us up and drove us past the park before arriving at his farmhouse – another fifteen-minute walk from the park. The day dawned, temperatures rose to 25c and we made it to the park for opening. Essentially two large warehouses, and an ever-increasing outdoor section, this was the smallest park of the trip but it would take us both by surprise. Troy opened at 12 so we spent the morning exploring the indoor attractions and a few outdoor ones before riding the most anticipated ride of the park.


Boomerang/ Toos-Express

For an indoor coaster aimed at children, this was pretty impressive. Racing through the first hall, this coaster was great fun and had some excellent interactions with the other attractions. 7/10


Blitz Bahn

This unusual powered bobkart ride starts indoors then runs outdoors before arriving in one more. Once seated, you push the lever forward to speed up and that’s about it. The launch was really good fun, and the course is taken at good speed. A fun ride. 7/10

Booster Bike

I was SO excited for this. I loved launched coasters, and the idea of sitting on a motorbike while being launched sounded perfect. The seating is certainly unusual, but not uncomfortable. The launch was actually pretty punchy, and the first drop and turn were great but it loses momentum fast and the end is rather sedate, with the airtime hills giving a little floater airtime but that’s about it. I’d love to see a large-scale model as I think the format is great. 7/10

Dwervelwind

The newest coaster (pre-Fenix anyway) at the park is a large Mack spinner, with a twisting, low-to-the-ground layout and a magical station that lights up when the trains leave (fanboy moment for sure). Our first ride was insane – the spin was incredible and the snappy transitions really wowed us. Definitely the best spinner I’ve been on. However two later rides were barely spinning, even with no one on the other sides so it’s a pretty erratic ride. I’ll review it based on the good ride. 7.8/10


Backstroke

The park’s log flume is really rather impressive, with an indoor backwards drop, a mid-lift turntable and a dramatic mountain plunge outside. Short but well-conceived. 7/10


Rapids

I can’t remember the name of the rapids, but they were pretty forgettable. The theming was beautiful, with huge waterfalls, gardens etc, but the actual ride experience was low on thrills and spills too. A filler attraction but nothing special. 5/10

Troy

Finally the clock hit 12 and we joined the few adults heading to Troy. It looks rather intimidating up close, with lots of big curves and that fantastic twisting first drop. The station fly-through had me super excited, and soon we were at the back climbing the lift. We rode it five times throughout the day, eventually in 27c heat and it certainly improved, although even in the morning I loved it. At the time I instantly placed it above Balder and I stand by that comment. I adored the out-of-control feeling as you raced through a bouncy, twisting layout. A few airtime moments catch you by surprise, and it really keeps pace throughout a surprisingly lengthy layout. The first drop could be a little steeper but I truly loved this ride. 9.1/10


The park really took me by surprise. Every staff member was smiley and happy, and with the construction of a B&M Wing Coaster soon to be finished, it’s gotta be a stop on any Netherlands/ Germany trip. Troy was a real ace, but the theming and attention to detail made it a really nice stop.

Phantasialand

The final stop o the trip took us by train to Cologne in Germany. We stayed a night there before heading early for Phantasialand via the tram to Bruhl Mitte station and then shuttle bus to the park. We had booked a final night at the Matamba hotel and it was pretty nice – a 3-star plus with an atmospheric African vibe. By 10am, we were in the park and what a stunning place it is! Except for Disneyland Paris, I’d never seen such amazing theming. Each area felt like exploring a new country in all honesty. I was blown away. The park, however, is smaller than I originally expected, but it’s such a perfect space that I can’t bemoan it for lack of acreage.


Me X Phanta


Winjas

We started with the Winjas. I’d heard good things about these. The queue was amazing, the building impressive and the rides were great fun in brief. The elevator lift was a fun experience, and the drops are quite high. We didn’t spin as much as I’d hope, although the trick track sections and dark ride portion make them well-rounded in all. Better than the Maurer Spinners we have in the UK? Definitely. 7.7/10

Temple of the Nighthawk

I’d not heard good things about this one so we got it out of the way early. I expected something like X (although was secretly hoping to be surprised like I had been for Vogel Rok) but in reality, it was worse, especially in contrast to the park’s other attractions. The station and building were lovely, but as soon as the ride eaves the first lift hill, its pitch black. There’s nothing to look at or even see as you traverse gentle curves and helixes and two further lift hills. The whole experience made me feel pretty nauseous and we both left hugely disappointed. A definite case for removal and replacement.

Mystery Castle

This was one of my most-anticipated rides. Truth be told I love the sensation of a drop tower but I rarely can find the courage to ride the taller ones (I avoided Atmosfear at Liseberg like the plague). This one is inside in a massive Medieval-style tower however so I wouldn’t have an issue. We entered via the dark-maze-esque queue and basically walked straight on. The ride theme is very atmospheric, with a Frankenstein vibe. My friend and I got split up because we had to fill single seats and suddenly the ride was being launched up into the darkness at what felt like a terrifying speed. It was such a rush. The following drop and jumps weren’t quite as good but I left content. It’d met expectations – a thrilling ride experience for sure. 8.3/10


River Quest

Next to River Quest. I’d deliberately not watched POVs for any of the major rides so as not to ruin the surprise. And boy was this a surprise. The elevator lift hill, numerous drops and an insane amount of water that soaked our boat was almost bewildering. I’d consider it more like a waterpark raft ride rather than a classic rapids at times. Definitely not one for a cold day but given the temperature rose to 28c during our trip, it was fine. A real rush of adrenaline throughout. 8.3/10

Chiapas

Another of my hotly-anticipated rides, I’d seen POVs when it was first opened and had watched in awe at the sheer scale of the ride. In person it’s just as impressive, with a theming unmatched by anything I’ve ever seen. The boats are unusual for a log flume, with proper lap restraints and very small seating portions. This meant it wasn’t the most flexible seating position and so you couldn’t duck or avoid the inevitable soaking. And this was indeed another really wet ride. The first two drops are fun but unremarkable except for being rather wet. The final plunge is amazing and apparently the steepest log flume drop in the world. Another epic water ride. 8/10


Colorado Adventure

The park’s mine train is really unavoidable, as it dominates that particular corner of the park. With three lift hills and loads of caves and tunnels, it’s an impressive ride for sure. We rode in the back seat twice and had some pretty crazy airtime moments. The seats are horrible though and make it a painful ride. Please replace them Phanta! 7.7/10

Black Mamba

This was a classic, and I’m sorry to say I wasn’t overly excited for it. While I loved Oz Iris at Parc Asterix for its steep drop, I find Nemesis and Inferno to be singular rushes of speed with intense force but no real change in the experience throughout the course, and rides that are ruined when not getting a front seat. While this ride was similar in some respects, the intense theming really made this a stand-out attraction. The park spent an amount equal to the original cost of the coaster on theming and it really shows. It’s set in a pit, with temples and waterfalls and all manner of obstacles paced around its course. We rode front seat, and it was a true rush from start to finish. Every element is followed by a terrifyingly-close near-miss, with me fearing for my feet several times. I had an idea where the layout was going, and it was a wild experience. 8.5/10

Talocan

An honourable mention here has to go to Talocan. We’ve all seen Rameses Revenge at Chessington, but Talocan is bigger, and you can sit backwards or forwards. Oh, and it’s half surrounded by a gigantic temple building and has fire effects as well as water jets. It’s incredible to watch – essentially a torture machine. The ride cycle features probably 10 or more inversions and is a great one for people to gawp at, with a dramatic soundtrack to suit. Sadly, we stepped right on to the back seat and the ride was horrendously sickening for me. Being flipped backwards five times over was not up my street, and the heatwave didn’t’ help. Definitely, one that’s better to watch than ride personally. 6/10

Raik

We finally entered Klugheim and headed for Raik first. It was a walk-on and seems somewhat hidden away in the depths of the area. The theming is totally immersive, but I wasn’t a fan of the ride experience. We sat at the back and experienced the full impact of the first drop. It was faster than expected but essentially just two or three turns before doing the same thing backwards. I’ve discovered that I don’t do backwards well, so this wasn’t the one for me! Short and punchy but it needs a bit more substance for me 5.5/10

Taron

The last and possibly most impressive coaster of the trip – Taron. Of course, we had to ride at the front. I’d heard amazing things and it certainly wowed, crossing the pathways and viewpoints countless times it absolutely flew through the mountain façades. Inevitable comparisons will be made with Helix for me, as the only other multi-launch coaster I’ve experienced. The first launch was stronger than expected, and the twists and turns through the Klugheim village was great fun. The second launch was insane, enhanced by a wild engine sound effect that really made it feel like you were on some mad untamed machine. The ride’s layout is unpredictable and really very extensive, with too many near-misses to list and a consistent speed throughout. I don’t think anyone could argue that this isn’t anything other than excellent. It’s smooth throughout, has more speed than the layout needs and goes on forever. However, for me Helix just pips it. I personally prefer more of a defined layout, with notable elements like airtime hills, inversions etc. But Taron is certainly a top-three coaster for me and an amazing achievement. 9/10


Alex x Taron


Phantasialand in all was beautiful. The roving actors. Themed shops and restaurants and general attention to detail was breathtaking. My friend still argued that Efteling was more magical but I think Phantasialand is what a theme park should be.
In all, the trip was excellent. It was easy to complete, and featured some amazing experiences that were entirely new to me - Rive Quest I'mm looking at you. Now I'm starting to think that we really get a raw deal here in the UK. We have some great coasters but many of our bigger theme parks just don’t live up to the name. To compare Dwervelwind to Dragon’s Fury for example – one is owned by a small park with limited budget and the other by a global theme park market-leader with millions to play with, but Toverland did better by far. I guess it means I'll have to see more European parks now to avoid disappointment :D

I’ve now hit my (admittedly embarrassing compared to some of you) 62nd coaster cred, ending with Taron. Thanks for reading :)
 
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Hixee

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Excellent! Sounds like a great trip. I'm pleased you had a good time, and sounds like you got a lot out of it.

Don't be embarrassed by the [relatively] low coaster count - you've gotta start somewhere! Here's to many more trips!
 

vaugc002

Member
Excellent! Sounds like a great trip. I'm pleased you had a good time, and sounds like you got a lot out of it.

Don't be embarrassed by the [relatively] low coaster count - you've gotta start somewhere! Here's to many more trips!
Ah thanks pal - well I've been on here for maybe ten years but I really haven't done much to work on my count. Hopefully this is the beginning!
And yeah - an awesome trip in all. Really eye-opening to see such quality tbh
 

zazobo

Member
Nice trip report! I'm heading to Toverland and Efteling in August, I hope to have as good of as trip as you guys did!
 

Pear

Active Member
Sounds mediocre xoxox
I stand by what I said: Europa > Phantasia
To each their own but I much prefer Phantasialand. Not only are the rides much better but so is the quality of theming. Europa focuses on big showpieces that look grand but are rather under detailed. Phantasialand fits so much detailing and theming into small places that I feel like it's on another level than Europa. Never one in Europa was I completely convinced I was in another land/country but in Phantasialand I believed I was in Africa and Mexico.
 

vaugc002

Member
To each their own but I much prefer Phantasialand. Not only are the rides much better but so is the quality of theming. Europa focuses on big showpieces that look grand but are rather under detailed. Phantasialand fits so much detailing and theming into small places that I feel like it's on another level than Europa. Never one in Europa was I completely convinced I was in another land/country but in Phantasialand I believed I was in Africa and Mexico.
Yeah the quality of everything was just incredible and totally immersive. I wish the park had a wooden coaster though - I think that'd win over Europa fanboys. cc: @Climb ;)
 

Climb

New Member
To each their own but I much prefer Phantasialand. Not only are the rides much better but so is the quality of theming. Europa focuses on big showpieces that look grand but are rather under detailed. Phantasialand fits so much detailing and theming into small places that I feel like it's on another level than Europa. Never one in Europa was I completely convinced I was in another land/country but in Phantasialand I believed I was in Africa and Mexico.
I think with Europa, whilst it might not be quite as detailed as Phantasia, you need to bare in mind that Europa is over 3x the size and has a wider collections of attractions and areas to theme. Whilst I thought so many of Phantasialand's areas were really detailed - Mystery Castle: who the hell creates a castle tower just for that; Taron: the entire area was just magical - I found a lot of prominent sheds around and the left(?) side of the park, presumably the early installations, were not nearly as detailed and well-themed as the rest - talking the Winja's warehouse etc which didn't make me feel immersed either.

I don't deny Phantasialand is a truly wonderful park, their attention to detail is stunning and the fact they spent all that money on replacing the theming on Black Mamba is as baffling, as is wonderful, but as a whole package I feel Europa offers more in the sense that their line-up is a lot bigger (albeit, they have a lot more space to play with) and they have themed themselves on a grand scale rather than minuscule detailing for smaller areas. Phantasia bests Europa in their headline attractions but I prefer Europa as a whole package and I see myself more likely to re-visit the latter, rather than the former.

I guess that's just a personal preference as I'm always up Mack's backside (as @vaugc002 knows).
 
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Pear

Active Member
Yeah the quality of everything was just incredible and totally immersive. I wish the park had a wooden coaster though - I think that'd win over Europa fanboys. cc: @Climb ;)
They definitely will not be getting a wooden coaster anytime soon if the town keeps putting up a fuss with noise complaints. Maybe they'll reuse Nighthawk's building and put it indoors.
 

vaugc002

Member
They definitely will not be getting a wooden coaster anytime soon if the town keeps putting up a fuss with noise complaints. Maybe they'll reuse Nighthawk's building and put it indoors.
Urgh the locals. Such a pain in the arse
 
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