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Eurodemption #2 - Part 22: Holiday Park, Klotten & Summary

Hixee

Flojector
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Had a lot to catch up on here!

Entertaining reading, for sure, but can't say I quite agree with @Howie that many of this stuff ends up high on my to-do list. :p

Enjoying hearing your adventure though!
 

Nitefly

Hyper Poster
Had a lot to catch up on here!

Entertaining reading, for sure, but can't say I quite agree with @Howie that many of this stuff ends up high on my to-do list. :p

Enjoying hearing your adventure though!
Yes. I like to think that @HeartlineCoaster is like a theme park superhero. Perhaps, like Batman (right at the very end of ‘The Dark Knight’).

By bravely surviving these parks and reporting on them, he’s being what CoasterForce needs him to be.

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Godspeed, @HeartlineCoaster.

*Tear-in-eye salute*
 

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
can't say I quite agree with @Howie that many of this stuff ends up high on my to-do list.
One of you clearly has better taste ;)

I like to think that @HeartlineCoaster is like a theme park superhero.
I've been waiting to hear those words all of my life.


The next morning found us crossing yet another border in search of creds and this time it was time to check out the Czech Republic.

Day 14 – Merlin’s Kinderwelt

One of the more last minute changes of our itinerary was the inclusion of this park. Czech were the last of the countries we visited on this trip to alter their rules from an absolute ban to 'everyone’s welcome now, yay' and the news had come in during one of our daily rundowns back in France.

It’s about the closest thing the country has to an ‘amusement park’ at the moment and sits right on the border with Austria.

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Context shot, though this is one of many entrances that we didn’t use, I believe it leads to the indoor section. The park is all part of a larger complex called Excalibur City which includes a casino, mall and Asian supermarket. You can seemingly park pretty much anywhere you want and just wander in from any direction, but the outdoor section is where the good stuff lives.

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Like this.
There are a couple of token machines dotted around each area, taking cash only (Koruna or Euro) and not giving change. Most of the rides are unattended and operated as and when required, so before buying anything we made our intentions known to a wandering staff member, who gave the slightest of positive indications that he could run what we wanted.

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And what we wanted was this poor beast. He’s tired and obviously had a hard life, but evidently couldn’t be happier. The train barely makes it up the first helix and then gets rather rowdy in the second half.

The other coaster lives over in a second outdoor section, across a road, the entirety of which was patrolled by an especially friendly staff member who pointed us in the direction of a second token machine and subsequently fired up the ride for us.

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A classic Golden Horse Space Car. Well, not so classic for Europe I guess. This one also ran like a beast.

And with that, the park was complete, along with the country, from a twisted point of view. Plopsa have sunk their teeth in and are opening a Majaland at some point in the near future and they have about 20 alpine coasters in various forms, but who needs a Czech alpine coaster when you can have a Slovak alpine coaster?


The original plan for this transit day to Poland, before the good news, had been just to pick up anything, anything at all in Slovakia to add to the list and see the day out. By Google’s calculations there was still time to do just that, particularly as we had just killed the first park in under 15 minutes of their operations.

What ensued was an endless sequence of yet more European roads letting us down, being overly congested, full of roadworks and generally irksome and so yet again, after a mere 6 and a half hours, we arrived at our destination with just moments to spare.

No-Fun Park Žiarce

Except those spare moments had been used by the operators of this single rail alpine coaster to pack up and go. It was bizarre and a little frustrating that we weren’t the only car full of expectant riders showing up at the last minute only to find we had missed out by mere moments. The staff were already completely blanking a larger group of disgruntled guests who had also arrived in front of us, as they began their winding down procedure.

Having physically suffered somewhat on route, we made a beeline for their toilets instead, which they next tried to lock us out of, all the while acting as though we simply didn’t exist. They lost that particular battle and instead of finishing the job just jumped on a moped and rode off into the sunset.

Almost in mock fashion, several more cars were still pulling into the car park, with many locals getting out and subsequently being disappointed as we sadly strolled back to our own car. I’d estimate they could have had at least another 20 paying riders that evening but obviously closing time is very strict for this particular establishment and not at all influenced by footfall.

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Here’s one photo of Slovakia at least, facing away from the wretched place. Oh look, there’s another car rocking up too.

Up next – some park hours are extended due to footfall.
 

TilenB

Strata Poster
Well, you should have gone to the similar sounding country to the South of Austria to get some alpine coaster creds. ;)

Also I've just realized that next to having a similar flag and name, Slovenia and Slovakia also have a similar coaster line-up with 4 alpine coasters, 3 of which have been built by Brandauer. At least Slovakia now seems to be building a proper theme park to do us one better. Maybe that's the wake-up call we need to start getting some proper creds?

Loving this report so far!
 

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
Have to say, this is so entertaining to read! You transform the most obscure, non-event places into fantastic trip report-content!
Thanks! Glad you're enjoying it.

Well, you should have gone to the similar sounding country to the South of Austria to get some alpine coaster creds.
See I'd love to have done just that, but you're simply not next to this place.


One year on, the pull of Poland, or more specifically Energylandia, is still strong. Two new creds and another opportunity to experience Europe’s best one-two punch was all the persuading we needed to pop in again while in the area.

Day 15 – Energylandia

Of course it wasn’t just any old two creds. One of them is multi-launch sensation Abyssus, a coaster that I was once super excited by, though time, delays and riding most of the other recent Vekomas had caused those feelings to fade somewhat.

We headed straight to the back of the park for it, on a walk that manages to be even more exhausting than ever. The chocolate mine train thing that they’re building appears to be cutting off what will eventually be a quicker access route to the new Aqualantis area, so for now it’s a walk to Zadra... and then some. It's no mean feat for first thing in the morning, particularly if you’re parked on the awful stoney car park right out in the corn fields. Luckily this meant basically no one had arrived yet, in a case of what I like to call Forbidden Valley syndrome, so our morning laps were mostly queueless.

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So, how was the ride?
It begins with one of those awkward clicky launches that don’t quite sit right with me. I forget what other ride(s) do(es) it, but it definitely doesn’t happen on better coasters with LSMs. It’s sudden, but subtle, a very quick transition from nothing to everything as if to get over that initial inertia, before instantly dialling it back to a gradual ramping of acceleration. If you’re not doing ‘heads back, face forward, hold on tight and brace yourself’ it’ll tap you in the back of the head for it, just enough to be bothersome, but it won’t then keep it there with any force. I’m probably not describing it right but it feels unrefined and meh.

A mild twisty section follows, interspersed with a couple of promising airtime hill teasers. It’s quite a short section of track before hitting the second launch running. I always love a good rolling launch, though I’m not sure the satisfaction of it extending the ride time is quite there when you haven’t really done anything notable or special so far.

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That propels you up into this turnaround top hat thing which is rather unremarkable upon entry and then (in the back at least) gives a weird sensation of ‘trying to eject you’ *pause* ‘trying to eject you again’ thanks to the silly trim brake.

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The vertical loopings is up next, which gives that not-so-great bland sustain feeling from the likes of Lech, before hitting the highlight moment in the form of this strong hill towards the station, much like Lech. It’s well framed too of course, I can’t knock the aesthetics.

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Ducking under the station leads into the Batwing. It might just be a weird 'feeling I get', but this to me is like 21st century Arrow coaster territory. Yes, we’re inverting, but why?

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Things get a bit more varied after that, as it begins to rather elegantly bounce between the twists and turns and airtime hills that go on to give quite a lengthy and satisfying ride experience, leaning at last on one of the strengths I find in a multi-launch where I sometimes catch myself thinking ‘oh yes, we’re not done yet.’

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The corkscrew’s rather decent. Some of these later moments deliver far better than others though, and not necessarily in a good way. It tries to do one of those funky sideways hills to keep up with the cool kids, like they did on the Space Warp models, but it’s really just a visual and doesn’t do much of anything. The train seems to run out of steam in the final few seconds as well, which I find further throws the pacing off. We had to be trimmed earlier to stop us greying out and now there's not quite enough gas in the tank to end on a high.

I’m still not entirely sure how to feel about all that, it’s a very conflicting ride for me. Aside from all the negativity I managed to bring out in that blow by blow, some of which is simply annoying me even more as I type it, I actually liked Abyssus far more than I had (eventually) expected to. It’s no gamechanger, it’s not spectacular by any means and yet it’s still really good fun.

It’s not like anything else in this particular market and I think that appeals to the side of me that still loves to try new things that break the mould a bit. That doesn’t mean that what they've achieved is necessarily for the better, but they’ve developed their own style that is distinguishable from the competition and that is at the very least satisfying and refreshing to experience. I can also see why that has turned into what I believe is a somewhat misplaced fascination with what Vekoma are doing right now. For me this is their best work yet and I can’t even see why it wouldn’t make the sacred top 10%, but that doesn’t stop me picking a hundred holes in it.

Enough waffle, cred.

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The park’s second junior boomerang and sixth or seventh Vekoma has a more linear layout to contrast the original. It’s all rather nicely decorated and set over this watery landscape. I do dig the Atlantis vibe they’ve got going on, though it’s clearly not finished yet and there seem to be still quite a few placeholders for things left to do. It's nice that each of the new areas give off an aesthetic that can't really be found in the bulk of the main park.

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Something is calling to us in the distance though. With everything new out of the way it was back to Energylandia basics. Once you’ve trimmed away all the fat there’s nothing left to do but see the day out by bouncing between Zadra and Hyperion

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We began on the former, which is still a ridiculous thing of epic magnitude and instantly casts aside any doubt of what an actual top tier coaster rides like, just in case Vekoma had you doubting yourself for a minute in the midst of your filler-filled two-week cred marathon.
The first drop was better than I remember. The massive airtime hill was slightly worse than I remember. Perfectly balanced as all things should be and remains exactly where it was in my mind.

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Hyperion still had a hilarious vibration to it in my personal favourite seats (outside back row). For me this only adds to the experience, spicing up those moments like the return hill that just don’t quite hit the mark amongst an otherwise outstanding coaster. Character. It may as well be a woodie at this point.

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Somehow across a two day visit last time we never found the time to queue what seems to be a perpetual 20 minutes for the dark ride here. Now it’s supposed to be one of my things I do, there was no excuse, though it still felt like time not well spent in those switchbacks.
And the feelings are justified; it’s a pretty awful ghost train with zero atmosphere. The lighting, the audio, the alien things just don’t add up to a cohesive experience. Hasn’t this already been revamped as well?

The park had been decently busy all day, almost to the point of unpleasantness in certain areas like the Zadra zone, what with Oktoberfest going on, and there being lots of extra food and drink stalls crammed in. There were far too many bodies at certain times of day, but this was rewarded with a park-wide announcement of an extension to the opening hours from 6pm to 8pm. Can’t argue with that.

It all turned into a bit of a game at the end of the evening, trying to maximise opportunity, minimise queues and get the optimum number of laps on each of the big boys to then end the day with an Abyssus pseudo-night ride that had previously not even been an option. There’s always some worry as the day draws to a close at Energylandia, they do have an over-eagerness to add and remove trains on rides as and when the queue times fluctuate, constantly chasing their tails a bit and when you’re waiting at least half an hour a pop it can easily cost you a precious lap or two.

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Everything ran almost too perfectly though. Hyperion got stupidly busy as soon as we left it, Zadra clung on to those two train ops until just after we departed and the night ended by running like idiots to Abyssus, hoping they wouldn’t shut the queue early in order to ‘clear the area’.
They didn’t, in fact we ended up on it twice in the dark as almost no one else in the park appeared to want to commit to ending the day so far from the main entrance. It wasn't a patch on the other night rides available here, but it was still pretty damn special.

Well now, I've gone and surprised myself by managing to make it to the end without ever uttering the word vests.

Up next – witches.
 

RobCoasters

Roller Poster
I've been following your blog for a while (and I have to admit I'm quite a fan of what you put on there) and this was another good read!

Abyssus over Lech was certainly something I wasn't expecting, very nice surprise there.
 

Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
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Thoughts on Abyssus sound about right. I was disappointed by it also. No doubt it's a great coaster, and better than most of the "good" stuff in the UK, but completely dwarfed (both in size and quality) by Zadra and Hyperion and (in quality) Lech. I really wanted to love it, but just... couldn't.

I didn't even think the theming was up to much - although as you rightly point out, it's clearly not finished yet.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
I really wanted to love it, but just... couldn't.
All those words and I could have just said that!


Though it was of course entirely worth it, that later night at Energylandia didn’t end up doing us any favours. After all the previous traffic tragedies, Poland really took things to another level by leaving us stuck at the tail end of a motorway accident until 3am as we attempted to make headway to the German border, in a queue so bad that even the recovery truck couldn’t get through due to poor ‘parking’, people leaving their cars and/or falling asleep at the wheel.

Day 16 - Erlebniswelt Seilbahnen Thale

The original plan of an early start the next day was of course abandoned after that travesty and so we needed to settle on a much more relaxed itinerary to accompany the crossing of Germany. This resulted in visiting just one humble collection of Wiegand equipment, set of course against a wonderful backdrop.

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The town of Thale is situated in a part of Germany that has a strong association with witches and other fun devilment.

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They have some big mountains, devils on benches, senior citizens yodelling

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And of course rides.
All of the equipment here is self-operated in true German fashion, you can load up a card with points at a ticket desk and use it as contactless payment to trigger the despatch of any ride at the push of a button.

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Boderitt is one of Wiegand’s rarer Mystical Hex models, in this case with cool looking cauldron cars. For being such an open vehicle it was rather scary in the backwards facing seat as it swung rather enthusiastically from side to side and left me unable to prepare myself for anything. Backwards is good.

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The place is also home to their prototype suspended design and first of their rides to be called Hexenbesen or ‘witches broom’, of course in homage to the region.
It’s a wacky contraption that involves solo riders laying on a crash mat inside a tube, again pushing the dispatch button yourself and ‘flying’ your way down to the bottom of the layout.

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Where you unceremoniously have to slide out backwards and clear the area before the car can take itself back up the lift hill. Fascinating, and great fun.

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Away from all that are the cable cars with alternate bonus glass floors that are scratched and pointless.

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They take you up to the top of the mountain to find one more piece of Wiegand wares.

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And more witches.

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Getting back on the old dual rail style felt like a bit of a downgrade after recent experiences. This is also a bit of a short and unremarkable version of the hardware, but it’s all part of the adventure. Also helped that it was open.

That’s pretty much it for yet another transit day. Germany became the next in a long line of countries that didn’t really want us to get anywhere in any hurry and, having crossed the entire width of the country, it was time to make camp in a particularly populous region of theme parks, old and new.

Up next – walls.
 

Satanspropaganda

Roller Poster
I just wanted to pop in and thank you for this Trip Report! We're now on our own European trip and we added Jardin d'Acclimatation thanks to your fantastic writeup! I've been reading along and loved all these weird and wacky parks you've visited
 
Yeah this is amazing stuff @HeartlineCoaster really enjoyed reading so far; hearing about all these obscure (relatively) undocumented parks. Fantasiana has always been of interest for the insanity that is wild train, but your report has exponentially heightened my desire to visit! There are a few more "pressing" European creds to acquire first, give it a couple years though and I'll be homing in on that one ;)
 

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
I just wanted to pop in and thank you for this Trip Report! We're now on our own European trip and we added Jardin d'Acclimatation thanks to your fantastic writeup! I've been reading along and loved all these weird and wacky parks you've visited
Glad to have inspired, hope you have a fantastic time!


Day 17 – Phantasialand

I can never seem to escape this park, even though I’m far from the biggest fan. Last year was brutally bad timing as we missed the long awaited opening of F.L.Y. by a mere couple of weeks. Obviously that had to be rectified and so here we go again, ready to ride yet another Vekoma multi-launch that I was once hugely excited for, though feelings had since faded into obscurity.

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Headed straight to Rookburgh to see what all the fuss had been about over the years. It’s quite the spectacle, I’ll give it that, and I like the way the area feels so far removed from the rest of the park as if it’s a little pocket world of its own. Walls were worth it.
Walking through the queue goes on for an age, but provides plenty of opportunity to have a good watch of everything going on around the place.

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We reached the instructional batching point amongst the first guests of the day, but then proceeded to get stuck here, watching the video over and over again for what felt like a long time. The ride was already playing up and having some technical delays. I assume this robot bloke is/was meant to do something, though he appeared to also be broken.
The video explains the immensely complicated boarding procedure which is, I suppose intentionally, rather like boarding a flight. You receive a magic wristband from a member of staff and then proceed to a bank of lockers, selecting any one you want. Once all your goods are stowed, absolutely all of them, the band will lock it for you by touch and then of course become registered exclusively to that number until the end of the ride.
It’s now time to pass through the metal detectors and staff with scanners to check you haven’t been naughty and tried to sneak a cheeky picture of the station to sell to Golden Horse. The station queue splits off into two, with what was originally intended to be colour coded entrances based on the wristband you received, I believe for single riders and such. These are covid times however, so everyone gets blue anyway and they just filter from both alternately.

It’s a nice station, full of bubbling pipes and mood lighting. I particularly like the way the trains come in at pace, there’s an efficient, almost public transport feel to it which is again what I guess they were going for.

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Having not followed any of this too closely, the trains themselves were rather impressive to behold. I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing as they came in sideways, seats mounted upright at 90° in sets of two. They’re massively long, nice and easy to get in to, the little one way leg flaps are rather genius and it’s all actually rather comfortable I found.
The trains despatch to much waving from the staff and continue in their weird sideways motion through an indoor section that contains a number of themed adverts for wacky inventions and then a large scene of a bustling airship dock(?) on screens. As you round the corner from there and head outside, the seats elegantly swivel round to the right as the track twists from behind you, to overhead, and the launch track awaits.

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The pause at this point is a little awkward, I feel like the ride could have benefited from a rolling first launch to keep the excitement going after the swelling of the music and the accompanying scene. Nevertheless you’re off, zooming around the area through a million different twists and turns. It’s somewhat of a sensory overload even after multiple goes, helped along by a few bonus water and smoke effects. Inherently though, the riding position doesn’t lend itself terribly well into taking all of that in, it’s hard to focus on any of the stunning visuals when you’re looking towards the floor as it blurs past. Out of interest I also tried looking forward instead, for the duration of a front row lap, and it ended up being rather uncomfortable on the neck.

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But is the actual ride any good? Kinda. There are some highlights in the latter half, as soon as that second launch hits and shoots you up here, there’s a surprising tug of acceleration followed by a bit of near-exclusive ‘airtime on a flying coaster’, though these are both only really felt towards the front. The following section is punctuated by some more highly unusual but satisfying lurching floaty moments, but those were the only real takeaway for me. The rest of the ride is rather repetitive and bland, much like the uninspired swooping turns and endless inline twists of lesser rival B&Ms, only highly exaggerated and then nicely decorated. Again I’m sure that hit the directive for this attraction, it’s just not something that keeps me coming back for more.
F.L.Y. is a fantastically fun themed experience with some fascinating new technology that’s simply joyous to behold, it simply doesn’t do the things I personally like flying coasters to do, namely crush your soul with ridiculous inversions.

Now that we had the measure of that, we found ourselves token lapping the rest of the park yet again.
Mice were shot with chocolate.

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Winjas were feared.
Finally got the better side again after many years trying. Interestingly the queue for these has temporarily been moved to outside of the building, instead entering through a theatre door and skipping the usually rather grim indoor maze section.

Crazy Bats weren’t seen.
Still no VR, thankfully.

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Feet were ripped off.

Colorado Adventure was ruined again,
by unnecessary assigned seating on a half empty train. Back row for life.

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Oh and Taron.
Taron was kicking ass, moreso than usual. I’m not sure what went on but it was running almost too well. The queue wasn’t unbearable and we got more laps than ever before. There were snaps I hadn’t felt for a long time, those one-and-a-half airtime moments were delivering and there were random bursts of positives I don’t remember existing. I was making a point to readjust my mask during the trims at the end, for comedic effect, but even they were providing some unprecedented floatiness and then the final turn would instantly and aggressively whip it down my face again. Every time.
The creature is clearly asserting some dominance over the new kid in town. And rightfully so.

We had a great day once again, it’s always easy to fill the time with the undeniably strong and varied attraction lineup of Phantasialand. No water rides this time cos Chiapas likes to ruin shoes and River Quest was clearly having capacity issues – barely any boats running and a 90 minute queue all day, with F.L.Y. at 45 and nothing else over 20.
Every time I visit this park now it grows on me and the negative experiences fade further into the past. But they are what gives the place character, so I think I’d better slow down.

Up next - negative experiences.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
There’s a handful of Dutch parks we keep meaning to visit but, for whatever reason (including not being allowed in last year), they never quite happen. This was the day to change all that, for better or worse.

Day 18 – Duinrell

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Duinrell lost out to Drievliet last time we were in the immediate vicinity, it couldn’t compete with just a trio of clones, but turns out it’s a lovely place.

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We began on the brown one, a Tivoli Large with unusual concrete troughs and signature frog train.

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Then rode the brown one, a highly competent Gerstlauer family coaster with an impressively senior ride op. If I work when I’m old, this is the gig for me.

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Lastly it was the turn of the brown one, also known as Rage.

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It didn’t quite pop as much as Rage, though it does look a lot nicer. Love the frog in the plane.

Beautiful park, but all too easy. Pro tip – parking is free if you manage to be in and out within an hour, which we did, in no hurry at all.

Hellendoorn

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I was rather hoping that Hellendoorn would be in the same sort of league. It was not.

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The stones on Donderstenen amuse me, but it was in our first queue that we noticed a significant presence of school trips on park. Children in various hi-vis colours were persistently attempting to queue jump everyone and everything, clambering over railings and some rather grim temporary covid barriers that had been erected. It fell to one hero in the queue, a man trying to enjoy a day out with his son, to stand his ground and put a stop to this as the lone operator was simply unable to.
Kids will be kids I guess, oh well.

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We next joined the queue for Discovery Club, a dark ride I had been rather looking forward to.
In complete contrast to the vague attempt at covid control on the last ride, this one auto batches you through a revolving metal gate to then leave you standing in an extremely cramped corridor and then narrow set of stairs, packed wall to wall with loud, screaming children, running up and down.
There was a member of school staff here, though all they managed to do was actively encourage them to be as loud as possible by initiating various chants and rhythms through banging on the walls. This went on for at least 20 minutes, the line barely moving, while we were barely able to hear ourselves think, let alone have a conversation. Once again, a single member of staff on ride obviously had no time to intervene.

Putting all that aside for the briefest of moments, the ride was nice, one of those rarer interactive shooters with the rotating cars and seats facing outwards in 4 directions. There’s tons of little details and trinkets in the scenery, which is comprised of an endless collection of artifacts, though the movements of a certain few seem to be getting a little tired.

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If we thought that was bad, try Rioolrat. The covid barriers were back, though falling apart and interestingly held together by graffiti, driftwood and chewing gum. Yet more children were out in full force, literally shaking the barriers to pieces, banging on them, causing them to collapse onto other guests and frankly being quite dangerous.
There was also a member of school staff here, sitting on a fence looking at his phone and making no attempt to stir up any peace. Yet again it fell to other paying guests who were visibly disgusted by the situation to make a vain attempt to control it. Yet again there was zero park staff presence, another automatic barrier forms the outdoor batch point and just one person operates the ride, deep inside the themed building.

This went on for a ridiculous amount of time, no less than 40 minutes for a queue of no more than 100 bodies and I don’t even know why. Once finally inside, you have to navigate some slippery stairs with a waterfall and some sewer tunnels with a very Raptor Attack vibe. It would have been quite cool but we were having one of the worst days at a theme park imaginable by this point.

The ride sucked, even for a Vekoma junior in the dark. I thought you were cool, Rioolrat.

We were so done with the park by this point. Just one more cred to bear, a stupid Vekoma looper, and then we can leave, never to return.
Walked over to it. It was closed.
Goodbye.

I know school trips aren’t a park specific or specific park problem, but I feel an establishment like this should at least be prepared for the situation by having a little more staff presence at critical points such as the queue lines of their two major operating attractions.
Failing that, there is a practice within the industry to publicly advertise on your website calendar as to which days are due to have school trips, allowing guests to factor this into their decision on when to visit. We certainly weren’t alone in feeling unable to even enjoy the day here, every other family or group of adults were clearly not having a good day time and I feel more sorry for them – park visits are two a penny to me, but can obviously mean a lot to others.

In all fairness to the park, they have since admitted fault and invited us back next year. They had the cheek (or at least their automated system did) to send us a survey asking ‘how was your visit? 🙃’ the very next day. We responded of course in an honest and constructive (as per the above), but sometimes brutal manner. Fast forward a few weeks and the eventual reply stated that they completely agreed with absolutely everything we said, it was a massive issue for them and they were making plans to do something about it.

Couldn’t end it on that note though.

De Waarbeek

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Things couldn’t be more different here as we became one of only a handful of cars in the car park for their last hour of operation.

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Back to tranquil, forest parks with not an ugly barrier, or guest, in sight.

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Their star attraction of course is old Rodelbaan, claiming to be the oldest steel coaster in the world (though RCDB appears to believe otherwise). They even let us know that fact before pushing the despatch button. It’s definitely good for its age, a fun little ground hugging layout that loves to interact with all the surroundings and has a few satisfying humps up its sleeve.

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They’ve also managed to keep hold of a bonus travelling cred for an extra season, a ride that was once Mini-Lynet at Fårup Sommerland. Actually it goes one better than that. It was Lynet, until they built Lynet.

Regardless, +2. Another great little park that was an overwhelmingly positive experience to end the day on.

Up next – an overwhelmingly positive experience.
 

TilenB

Strata Poster
Failing that, there is a practice within the industry to publicly advertise on your website calendar as to which days are due to have school trips, allowing guests to factor this into their decision on when to visit.
Is it a thing in Netherlands, though? I recently visited some parks there and while my experience with school trips was nowhere near as bad as yours (there were still a lot of loud queue-jumping children) there was no mention at any of the websites of the parks that we visited.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
Is it a thing in Netherlands, though? I recently visited some parks there and while my experience with school trips was nowhere near as bad as yours (there were still a lot of loud queue-jumping children) there was no mention at any of the websites of the parks that we visited.
Not that I'm aware of, it's far from common practice anywhere but it does exist. I'm not saying they should have already had it in place for our visit, just that it was offered it as a suggestion for the future.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
2017, De Panne. A faffy cred hunting trip that ended in failure. The inadequacies of Plopsaland and our own misplaced stubborn desperation to ride a cloned GCI that had broken down resulted in us missing out on Vleermuis, potentially forever. Ticket machines were out of order, staff were slow and chunnels were missed. Not the best of impressions were left.

Many years later they weren’t making it any easier for us, with sporadic opening dates and a soon-to-be-abolished pre-book system that wouldn’t let you pre-book. We ended up getting full blown Plopsa season cards in anticipation of dusting off several other +1s from the chain either later in the trip or within the next year. Saves a fortune on parking at least.

Day 19 - Plopsaland De Panne

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Ideally we would have visited this on the way home, seeing that the park is under an hour from the channel tunnel and closer to my house than Alton Towers, but a 6 hour round trip from the German border, on a Wednesday of all days, would just have to do.

Was it worth it? Yes.
The reason for visiting of course was the recently opened Ride to Happiness. I had no idea what to expect, having never ridden a Mack Xtreme Spinner and not understanding the rather unusual theme that came with it and, well, we’ve certainly got something special on our hands here.

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I’ve totally fallen for the theme now that I understand it. Sign me up for this Belgian music festival. There’s a wonderfully serene and other-worldly aura to the area, from the calm and soothing queueline soundtrack to our new robot friend here in the station who makes bold but reassuring statements to imminent riders about how their lives are about change forever.

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And they are. This ridiculously slow inversion out of the station is the most comfortable and natural sensation ever, even if it has no right to be. The ability to take it at any angle and a variety of speeds makes it an instant classic.
From there, you pause at the start of the launch track in a moment of nervous anticipation, sometimes spinning, sometimes not. How will this play out? You never know, it’s a surprise every time. The sudden burst of acceleration might initiate an intense spin, it might pin you sideways, forwards or backwards. You’re at the mercy of the machine now and the on-board soundtrack matches this change in dynamic perfectly.

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The first element out of the launch is another that just conventionally shouldn’t work. A 90° turn in the midst of a 100ft top hat? Why not.
If you’re in the front of the train, the airtime at the crest of the hill immediately tries to kill you before teasing you into a slow and inevitable vertical plummet. If you’re in the back it seems fine, we’re just turning and spinning a bit, up high, and then comes the terrifying drop that has you out of your seat at any angle for what feels like forever.

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I can’t go on describing all the different combinations of what this ride can feel like and do to you because the spinning aspect makes it an endless list. Highlights for me into the banana roll and vertical loop combo were moments of intense positives that literally folded me in half around the lap bar while trying to implant my belt inside my stomach, leaving an ugly bruise. Sure, if you like.
There’s a gloriously disorientating fourth inversion straight after that, out over the water, which is just one of those ‘coasters don’t get much better than this’ moments for me.

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And yet you’re only half done. Mack’s strangely humped second launch makes a return appearance, giving a weirdly satisfying shot into the last inversion that defies description. Hangtime, sideways airtime, falling out of your seat… you name it, it can do it.

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And just to seal the deal on the whole experience, some more epic ejector on the last few hills, any which way you like. This ride left me laughing and crying on the brake run every time, without fail, mask either over my eyes or around my neck There’s just so much to process and it never gets old. I love it.

There are other rides here, though you’d be forgiven for not knowing or caring at this point. The gap in quality is just ridiculous, as we soon reminded ourselves.

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Nevertheless we started with a token lap on spiteful Heidi. It’s fine, I guess. Only been a year since we rode the Polish equivalent to death, so it all felt very familiar. Why did we let this thing cause so much fuss?

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Anubis is still here and I bet it’s feeling rather embarrassed and redundant right now. Just a sub-par launch coaster with inversions, not Eurofighter bad at least, but probably time to step aside.

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We also managed to miss their dark ride last time. Bos van Plop is a brilliant little boat ride through a million different gnomes up to various tricks, complete with catchy soundtrack and bundles of charm.

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Thus concludes our circuit of the park. We were here for Happiness and made it our mission to ride it as much as physically possible. The weather was ridiculously hot, the coaster is stupidly intense and we were struggling, but with regular rest and sustenance, we got it done.

I was having scary thoughts throughout the day about how much I like this thing. Each go would bring something new to the table, moments that I once thought were exclusive to certain other top ten coasters. Of the 16 laps we ended up with, honestly, there were a couple that weren’t as special, there is a degree of luck involved. But the majority were just something else and it simply can’t be beaten on that rerideability factor, nor the fact that it can blow your mind equally in any seat.

Every time I doubted myself, head in hands on the brakes, not knowing what to do with all these thoughts, we’d roll into the station and the robot woman would be there looking down on us, sometimes judging those feelings, sometimes affirming them, with those weird monocle cogs that rotate in and out of place. Once again I find It’s the little details that can endear you to a ride. Suddenly the return of the station soundtrack would stir up an overwhelming emotion that almost has me shaking, even now, as I merely think about it.
Yes, this is the second best rollercoaster on the planet.

Up next – not that.
 

Matt N

Strata Poster
Wow; a new number 2 in your coaster count of over 1,000 is certainly no mean feat!

Out of interest @HeartlineCoaster, what is it that’s keeping Helix on top for you, if you wouldn’t mind saying? (Or are even able to explain it, as I know that these things are often quite inexplicable!)

Also, are you riding Kondaa on this trip?
 

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
Out of interest @HeartlineCoaster, what is it that’s keeping Helix on top for you, if you wouldn’t mind saying?
Layout, landscape, location, interaction, the hill. Helix is still another level for me, but this is as scarily close as we've got in forever.
The future is here, and it's spinning.

Also, are you riding Kondaa on this trip?
This trip is long gone sadly, I'm just still playing catchup on these reports.
As it happens though I rode Kondaa last weekend, on a separate trip, cos it only just reopened. Will get to it eventually!
 

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
One of the reasons we ended up arriving too early for F.L.Y. last year was that we had originally planned to use that day for a much dearer old friend to pick up some new attractions, but the various national restrictions at that time just weren’t playing ball.

This year, they were.

Day 20 – Efteling

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Not seen that shot before.

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Instead of the usual joke about being here for the +1s, I’ll be up front. I wanted Symbolica, badly. I’d left it so long now that I had almost forgotten why that was.

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Though the queue soon reminded me of that. The whole attraction oozes that Efteling quality from the moment you set foot inside the building and this impressive animatronic waffles on at you about not going any further.

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Cheeky Jester Pardoe has other plans though, and invites us deeper into the attraction for some magical mischief.

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Descending the square spiral staircase gives us this clue as to what we’re in for. A trackless dark ride of course, the perfect hardware for some sorcery.
The ride has three different ‘tours’ which form three different loading areas in the station. While they follow the same overall storyline, each one contains a couple of key differences during the layout. The cars also have touch screens in the front which can be used to interact with things at certain points during the ride.

We began with the treasure tour and, in their batches of 3, the cars set off down a castle corridor, amusingly getting up to some overtaking antics that I love to see from this type of hardware. The first main room is rather magnificent, a big wizard’s lab with floating planets in which another animatronic Pardoe appears out of nowhere and casts a visible spell on each car.

Through the next corridor, cars move out onto a balcony overlooking a very Efteling style diorama scene before moving on into an arboretum type room which, for some reason, has a friendly whale in it, behind a glass wall. The glass can’t take the strain and begins to crack, with water beginning to pour out of the gaps. Time to back away quickly past another Pardoe who tells you to hurry up.

At this point the cars spilt off again ino their own respective rooms, themed to whichever tour you’re on. Magical stuff happens and the interactivity comes into play a bit before moving into a large cluttered area full of furniture and artifacts where other cars appear from all angles. At some point during this they reach another tour exclusive point, pausing for a while in a little side area while you get another opportunity to mash the screen and make things move or light up.

Finally it’s time to pass through the cellar, getting shot by wine corks and crashed into by stacks of pancakes along the way, before entering the last big room with everyone else. There’s a banquet with the castle family inside a big ballroom where the cars dance around each other and a couple of twirling couples. A fun and light-hearted way to end the spectacular experience.

I can’t fault the thing really, other than for having several effects out of action since the opening days (biggest one being the whale himself) – something that appears to be occurring quite regularly with Efteling as of late. Maintenance aside, easily one of the finest dark rides in Europe. Managed to pick up the heroes tour later in the day, which nicely leaves one more to aim for (music tour - sounds like the best) on a future visit!

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Took some time to look around the actual dioramas of old. Love their distinctive styling.

Wanted to try Raveleijn this time around, having never made time for it before, so we booked the earliest slot of the day on the app, then had a panic and nearly lost it again after overthinking and trying to be cheeky and change plans on the fly.

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In the meantime, nearby Droomvlucht was a must. I love being immersed in the soundtracks of Efteling and this one feels so nostalgic already, floating through fairy worlds, amazing music blasting.

Villa Volta had a similar effect once you actually get on board, but the preshow ratio is a bit off (not helped by not understanding the language) and seems to go on forever, particularly on rerides. They were also playing a weird cut down version of the main theme on a perpetual 30-second loop in the queue, which of course we then heard 100 times over, that took the edge off it a bit.

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After making a lucky recovery, it was time to head into the arena for what should have been a spectacular show.

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Had big expectations for some reason and they were a little misplaced. I’m led to believe this was a slightly cut down version, for covid, but knowing what I know now, the fundamentals I took issue with would still be there.

The birds they use are cool, cleverly trained, pretty magic. The horse stunts aren’t the best, a bit more OK Corral than Colourful Yunnan Paradise. One of the horses in particular was kicking off and giving the rider a tough time, which only dragged out the fairly insignificant sequence even further while it sorted itself out.
The elephant in the room is the big mechanical dragon, Dragonicon (though I do like that he has a name). As the next in a long line of effects no longer working, he doesn’t rise up from the floor any more, so he’s just there, chillin’, throughout all of the rest of the show. Once he starts kicking off, when the narrative dicates, the impact just isn’t there, although fire effects are always a winner in their own right.
It wasn’t clear (without translation at least) who was good, who was bad, who was fighting what throughout, even through the use of simple colours and the manner in which certain characters were introduced, so it all felt a bit inconclusive. Oh well.

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Let’s see what they’ve done to my beloved Pandadroom, now known as Fabula.

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It’s a Mack Media overhaul of the old ‘save the planet and the pandas’ 4D cinema, with new characters, new plot, new everything. And it’s decent. The pre-show sets up this grumpy bear in a cave who doesn’t like to share his space with the other animals, cruelly sending them out into the rain.
A tiny wizard bloke decides to teach him some morals and magic begins.

Once in the actual theatre, the bear gets sucked into various portals to new habitats and transformed into a different animal, to suit each one. A squirrel from the cave accidentally gets caught up in this and, through the course of several adventures they become best friends, eventually living back in the cave, happily ever after. There’s some good little nods to the attraction that came before, some subtle, some as obvious as several pandas in a forest. Sadly the big tree effect didn’t go off (broken?), though it felt like it easily would have been incorporated.
It’s charming and a bit of fun, just not quite the emotional and musical powerhouse that it once was.

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The last new attraction (finally, some creds) was Max & Moritz, the duelling powered coasters that replaced old Bob.

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Of course there’s a good bit of lore behind the scenes for this, two kids and their soap box racers.

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I thought that they could pull off something a bit more special, though, bring the Mack powered into the 21st century a bit more. Plohn's is better, what does that say?
Plus points are all the little details and effects in the station (how long will they last?) and the genius onboard soundtrack that plays a catchy tune, slowly for the first lap and then more quickly for the second.
In terms of duelling and interaction however I found it all a bit sub-optimal. The track layouts aren’t particularly decorated (or even interesting) and there’s only one real moment of crossover between the two trains at any point – you’d expect at least a handful. There's also some weird pacing going on in the climax of one of the sides.

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Time for some classic coasters. The Dutchman was just as gorgeous as I remember on the inside, although the water projection wasn’t working…

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And just as anti-climactic on the outside. Segues nicely into Draak though.

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I’m very disappointed. What were usually my favourite GCIs on the continent were running very poorly both on-ride and operationally. The queue was fairly hefty and yet dispatches were taking 6-7 minutes, with the staff just lounging around without a care in the world between laps. Sitting onboard the train with enough time for the entire ride theme to play through multiple times does absolutely nothing for the atmosphere of a fast-paced racing coaster and it ended up becaming somewhat of a chore.

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Then once it did get going it was just a bit weak. Cracking layout with very little delivery. With a broken dragon of course, so no namesake water or fire either.

Which left big Vogel Rok to be the best coaster in the park for the day. All the effects budget must have gone into this awesome indoor coaster, it was running better than ever with all sorts of trickery happening. The onboard audio is sublime, I just love singing along to it as it swoops around. Perfection.

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Oh, yeah, they’ve got this thing as well. The world’s most beautifully themed, but least intimidating dive coaster. With the usual nothingness of a layout. I still love the theatrics of it at least. And mist. Mist is good.

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Fata Morgana was the bomb, as always. Stuff wasn’t working of course, but I think that’s been the case ever since my first visit and it still kicks ass.

Stayed to watch the Aquanura show at the end of the day and was left feeling a bit… deflated. There were a lot more holes in Efteling this time, I used to think they could do no wrong and yet it’s either overexposure on my part or their standards are slipping. I always got the impression they pride themselves on being better than the rest and through a variety of factors that just didn’t feel evident this time around.
Still a lovely, fulfilling day out of a park and I adored Symbolica, but they ain’t on a pedestal any more.

Up next – one of those Intamins with a drop track.
 
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