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First visits to Efteling and Toverland – October 2018

witchfinder

Member
Mrs Witchfinder (Anna) and I booked a short break in the Netherlands, with a couple of days at theme parks (one coinciding with Ghosterforce) then followed by a couple of days in Amsterdam.

I could go into detail about all the hassle we had with our hire car at the airport and how it made us very late checking into our B&B in Rhenoy, but I won’t bore you with all that. Just suffice to say my recommendation is don’t book Dollar car rental at Amsterdam!

Efteling – Friday 19th October
This was our first visit to Efteling and it was listed as a busy day on the park website, so we bougt the ‘Ticket Extra’ for 10 Euros each, which gets you lunch and a snack at selected outlets, 20% off a souvenir and most importantly entry to the park at 9:30. The food is worth the 10 Euros so it’s a bit of a no-brainer! We got there around that time, got all our vouchers for the various add-ons and headed into the park.
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There are a few rides open early (they’re listed on the website) but none of them were of great interest and the best use of our early entry was to get in the queue for Bob, as we knew this would have one of the longest queues once the park properly opened. Turns out we weren’t the only ones with that idea!
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Once the ride opened just after 10am, we were on within 10 minutes and there was already a huge queue behind us so it was the right move.
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Bob was decent start to the day. Nothing too thrilling but these Bobsled coasters are fun and it was a nice bonus cred as it had been closed for so long I was assuming we wouldn’t get to ride it, so I’m glad we got the chance before they close it next year. I’d rate it second out of the four bobsleds I’ve done, behind Avalanche but ahead of the ones at Parc Asterix and The Great Escape.
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With that out of the way we hit the main coaster area of the park, which looks gorgeous with all the creds set around the lake, and it’s also super convenient of course!
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All the queue times were pretty low at this point in the day so we just made our way round the lake in the obvious order. First up was Baron 1898.
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Loved the steampunk-esque theming on this one, and the haunted mine theme was great overall. I was also impressed by the super organised operations on this, with separate queues for front row right from the off and the little tickets they give out for the other rows.
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Ride-wise this was my favourite of the three B&M dive coasters I’ve ridden, despite being the smallest. I think the smaller cars give a bit more flexibility in the layout and both the inversions and the helix take advantage of this. It probably lacks a bit of intensity compared to Oblivion and Sheikra but it’s a lot more fun, and the theming is superb.
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Next up should’ve been De Vliegende Hollander but it was temporarily closed so we moved on to Python, which was making use of the handy ‘Boarding Pass’ virtual queue system. Handily the next available time slot was only a few minutes away so I booked us in on the Efteling app and we sat down for a few minutes until our slot came around.

Once we were in the queue, just as promised it was only a 10-15 minute wait until our ride, so hats off to Efteling for putting this system in and not charging extra for it. Hopefully it may soon be added to other rides at this and other parks that want to improve the guest experience. So not Merlin parks, obviously!

I’d obviously not ridden Python prior to the re-tracking but I’ve ridden enough rough Vekomas to know that this had certainly been improved. It was still a bit rattly in places but certainly not rough, and the vest style restraints probably helped too.
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They clearly have huge fondness for the ride at the park given the expense it must have taken to re-track, but to be honest it’s pretty bland by modern standards. Things have come a long way since a modest drop, two loops and two corkscrews was considered an exciting layout! Also the lift hill has to be one of the slowest I’ve ever encountered.
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Moving on around the lake, it was time to get some wood :) Joris en de Draak was proving quite busy and the queue was over half an hour, but we joined it anyway and enjoyed watching the two coasters duelling through the layout whilst we waited. We chose the Water side first, getting a row fairly close to the back. I’ll save my opinion for now as we didn’t ride Fire till later…
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After our ride we went to take a closer look at the Dragon. Funny, but doesn’t this seem rather like a coaster that fuses wood and fire? More reliably than Merlin’s supposed world first does too!
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With De Vliegende Hollander still down we took a break from coasters and continued our circuit of the lake, arriving at Pirana, the rapids. Didn’t get much in the way of photos here but they were really good, with plenty of splashing moments and the opportunity for boats to bump or even overtake one another. Great theming on them too, as you’d expect.

We disembarked to rapids to find that De Vliegende Hollander was finally open, but we were now about as far from the entrance as you can get while still being by the lake! A brisk walk past Baron 1898 completed a full lap of the lake and found us waiting outside the ride, whose queue time had already doubled since the time we noticed it was open.
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This was undoubtedly my most anticipated ride on this trip. Back in 2015 when I started to get enthusiastic about coasters again and began looking at the parks across Europe, De Vliegende Hollander was something that really attracted my attention. It just seemed so unusual and elaborate to have a dark ride, coaster and splash boat combined into one experience, so I was relieved it had opened and was really excited to ride it.
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I’m happy to say it didn’t disappoint! I had watched POVs in the past but luckily they never revealed what the queue line or station were like. Much like the queues at Universal, this was a joy to walk through with so many great items to look at, and then when you reach the station/harbour – wow! That was a real jaw dropping moment.
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We were super excited even before we got on board the ride, but the ride itself was great. It’s not the best dark ride, nor the best coaster, nor the best splash boat, but the whole thing combined is an incredibly fun and immersive experience.
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With all but one coaster done, we had a break for lunch before getting on the cute steam train for a journey to the opposite end of the park. Initially the plan was to ride Droomvlucht but I noticed that the queue for Symbolica had dropped below 30 minutes for the first time that day so we headed to that instead.
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It certainly looked impressive, with an amazingly themed building. The queue line was a bit messy with lots of cattlepens that weren’t in use, but eventually we got to the front and made our way into the building. The pre-show was fun, though we didn’t really know what was going on due to the language barrier, and the queue line within the building was great. We chose the Musical journey mainly because it had a shorter queue.
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I know I’m in the minority here, but honestly I thought Symbolica was a bit crap. I mean, the ride system was really clever and obviously a lot of effort had gone into the theming, but I just found the whole thing a bit cheesy. I guess the big issue here is that I’m not really enthralled by the whole fairy tale theme that the park has, but most of the animatronics seemed a bit lifeless and predictable, the interactive elements were confusing and the whole thing just went by in a blur. When you compare it to the big dark rides at Universal, it all seemed a bit dated which isn’t great considering it’s a brand new ride. So that was disappointing, but I’m sure the kids loved it.

After that we decided not to bother waiting over half an hour for any more fairy tale themed dark rides, so Droomvlucht was ditched and instead we went to watch the live show Raveleijn. We didn’t bother with the headsets for translation but it didn’t really matter because it was an amazing spectacle and we got the gist of things pretty easily. We loved it!
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We then had a nice stroll back across the park (the weather was lovely for the time of year btw), passed the spiteful, under-maintenance Vogel Rok and stopped off for another sit down with some fab views on Pagode.
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It was about 4pm by this point and the queues for all the coasters were pretty short, so we headed back over to the back of the park, with Joris being the first target. Obviously we had to ride Fire this time, and this turned out to be our favourite of the two trains. It’s a close call but this one gave a slightly wilder ride with a bit more airtime than Water I reckon.
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We’d ended up losing both rides to that point so immediately went for another ride on Fire and won on this attempt, which helped cement its place as the best of the two and the best ride in the park in my opinion. Both coasters are great fun, wild but not rough and with plenty of airtime, especially on the drops, and obviously the duelling element makes them even more enjoyable.
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We then grabbed another ride on De Vliegende Hollander, which was again really good fun, followed by another on Baron 1898 which was also really enjoyable. After that it was about 6pm and we went to eat pancakes at Polles Keuken. It was rather busy and we waited about 20 minutes to get in, which pretty much wiped out the chance of any last minute rides. The pancakes were good but they do get a bit much after a while, and we definitely had better ones during our trip. The restaurant itself was really cool though.
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We left just after 7pm with the park now shrouded in darkness, just in time to catch the fireworks show on the lake. We watched for a few minutes and it looked great, but we decided to beat the queues getting out so headed to the exit, and less than ten minutes later we were out of the park and on our way to our hotel in Eindhoven.
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Now we may not have been fans of the fairy tale theme, and we certainly missed a lot of the park, but we both loved Efteling. Such a gorgeous park with all the greenery, amazingly themed rides and areas, and some fantastic operations that made a supposedly busy day seem far from it. Most importantly the creds are all great fun – there’s nothing there I would call Top Ten material, but with the exception of Python they’re all nicely themed and very re-ridable. Even Anna, who is pretty picky when it comes to coasters, not only rode them all but enjoyed most of them enough to go on again, and there are very few parks where that happens.

The only real niggle I have is the assigned seating on coasters, which I guess helps with operations but is annoying when you want a front or back row ride, but that’s a pretty minor complaint. Overall it was a great day and we never even saw the Fairytale Forest or experienced the likes of Vogel Rok, Fata Morgana and Spookslot, so there’s already a reason to go back even before they add new creds.

To finish off, here’s a few random photos from the park that most of you will have seen numerous times before.
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Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
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They clearly have huge fondness for the ride at the park given the expense it must have taken to re-track, but to be honest it’s pretty bland by modern standards. Things have come a long way since a modest drop, two loops and two corkscrews was considered an exciting layout! Also the lift hill has to be one of the slowest I’ve ever encountered.
Agree with both of these statements. None of us could understand why they didn't just spite the ride and put something new in, rather than spending all that money refurbishing it. Madness. :p They could have at least put in a faster lift motor!

Nice report, and echos many of my thoughts. Good stuff.
 

witchfinder

Member
On to day 2 then :)

Toverland – Saturday 20th October

With the park open until 11pm and the CF Live meet-up set for 1pm, we felt no need to rush to Toverland, so we had a nice breakfast in Eindhoven and eventually arrived at the park around 11:30. First thing we saw was the monstrous structure of the mighty Troy, which looked WAY taller than 105ft!
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We entered through the new entrance (obviously) which was very nice in a not-at-all-inspired-by-Islands of Adventure kind of way, and Anna immediately demanded that we go and ride Fenix, as she loves wing coasters and was probably more excited to get into this park than I was!
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So away we went to the new Avalon area, which looks fresh and new as you’d expect, but already has some pretty well established foliage. Fenix of course looks gorgeous!

We joined the queue, which ended up being around 20 minutes wait. The theming of the queue line and station building in general is pretty good in a not-at-all-inspired-by-Harry Potter kind of way.
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I must mention the steps at the point. Boy do they like staircases in this ride’s queue! Starting with a spiral staircase near the entrance, then there’s a couple of flights of stairs to get to the main station (plus more if you’re riding the left wing) and then when you get off, there’s two flights of stairs to get down out of the station, with a bizarre turnstile in the middle of them, and then to top it all off there’s one more set of steps to get into the gift shop! My calves were killing me the next day after riding Fenix five times during the day.

Anyway, back to the ride and we started with a left wing, front row ride. It was great fun! The dive drop is slightly awkward but from there you swoop down into an impressive floater airtime hill (seriously, how did they manage that?) which drops you into a great headchopper under the first bridge. I certainly ducked the first time we went through that!
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From there you go into the Immelmann, then the pretty strong helix and then straight into the Zero-G roll which is a great, disorientating combination of elements. Then it’s straight under another headchopping bridge and swooping through the rest of the layout to the brake run. All in all a really exciting ride with plenty of terrain hugging moments, some decent forces and the expected B&M smoothness. It does seem a tad short, and it’s still amazing that this is the longest wing coaster in Europe, but it certainly packs a lot in.
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Anna was certainly impressed and with the queue still quite short we went straight back for a second ride, this time on the right side, front row again. We both agreed the right wing was the better of the two, as the dive drop is better on that side and the helix feels more forceful, though that may just be due to how close you are to the ground. She still slightly favours Wild Eagle but for me this is the best of the three B&M wing coasters we’ve done so far, mainly due to the airtime hill and the helix.
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We had a walk round the rest of Avalon and still had about half an hour before the GhosterForce meet-up so we grabbed the nearest available cred with was Dwervelwind.
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This was my first Mack spinner and while I don’t think it’s quite as amazing as some people seem to, it’s definitely one of the best spinners I’ve ridden, with some quite forceful moments. It makes me think that Time Traveller at SDC must be pretty intense!
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That brought us to 1pm so we headed back to the entrance of Fenix to meet up with the CF gang, finding some of the group already waiting. With others running a bit late, we ended up going for lunch and then met up afterwards with the latecomers at the entrance to Merlin’s Quest, the other new addition to the park for this season.

Now I’ll be honest, if it had just been Anna and I then I doubt we would’ve ridden this, especially with the park getting busier and three new creds still to get. But to be fair it was a nice relaxing way to let our lunches digest and the ride was quite fun, making clever use of the building that also housed Fenix. Within that building were a number of scenes and characters, including a tree-like being definitely not inspired by the Ents from LOTR. :D
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The ride also gave some nice opportunities for photos of Fenix and the Avalon area as a whole, including the not-at-all-inspired-by-Hobbiton new restaurant :D
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With the new boat ride done, we met up with a few more even-later-comers and then most of the group took their first ride on Fenix, choosing the right side on our recommendation. I think everyone enjoyed it!

After that we all made our way over to Dwervelwind again, whose queue had grown considerably since our earlier ride. That gave the opportunity for Serena to introduce a game that would run for the rest of the day, where the aim was to scare fellow members of the group to earn stars from them. Cue lots of goons shouting in one another’s ears for the next 20 minutes, much to the bemusement of the general public I imagine!

After Dwervelwind it was clear the park was getting very busy, with plans to ride the Rapids and Booster Bike abandoned due to the long queues. Instead we joined the queue for Troy, which was more bearable.
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I only ended up getting one ride on Troy and that was unexpectedly on the second row, and to be honest it was a bit underwhelming. It was certainly wild and exciting, with the initial drop and the station flythrough being highlights, but I felt it was a bit bouncy in places – not full on rough but not far off – and I didn’t get a lot of airtime, which was a shame. I’d really hoped to ride it multiple times during the day but circumstances (and a wife that didn’t enjoy it at all) prevented that. As a result I think it has potential to go up in my rankings but for now it wasn’t the best woodie on the trip as I enjoyed Joris much more.
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With Troy done we made our way indoors to ride Maximus Blitz Bahn. The queue was over an hour and then the ride broke down for 15 minutes or so, so by the time we got on it I was glad just to get it over with. While it was fun and the theming in the queue line was great, I’m struggling to see why everyone seems to think so much of it. Definitely not worth the wait for me!
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The time was now approaching 6pm, the sun was going down and the park’s Halloween festivities were about to begin. The precursor to the parade at Port Laguna was to fill the entire park with dense fog, and I do mean dense – we could barely see the people in front of us as we made our way to the entrance!
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Once we got there we found such a large crowd that we had no chance of seeing the parade, and it was now so busy that the group decided to split up, with some heading off to do the scare mazes while those of us that still needed creds headed off to get them.

So next up was Booster Bike, which had a disgusting hour-long queue for such an average ride, but it was unlikely to get any better so we joined it anyway. All apart from Anna, who didn’t fancy this one, so ended up sitting on a bench in the fake fog for an hour, gradually freezing. When I asked her afterwards why she hadn’t gone in the nearby building, it was because she didn’t know it was even there, so thick was the mist!

By the time we got to the front of the queue it was pitch black, and I ended up on the front row on my own. Now I know these rides aren’t the best, but I do like the motorbike gimmick, I love a launch and I don’t think they’re too rough for Vekomas. Riding in the dark just added something extra, especially as they had fire effects in the area where the track turns around, and while it definitely wasn’t worth the hour long wait, riding Booster Bike in the dark was probably the best way to experience it!
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That just left one cred and it was a relief to all of our small group (especially Anna) to get inside out of the cold and ride Toos-Express. It also had virtually no queue, thankfully, and somehow Anna and I ended up riding on the front row in the train cab, which was rather embarrassing!
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With all the creds done, we had a bite to eat inside at one of the few outlets that didn’t have a massive queue, then as the rest of our group wanted to re-ride Troy, we said our goodbyes and headed back for a night ride on Fenix, which looked great lit up with blue light. We also passed through one of the scare zones with a bunch of scary witches doing their thing, which was pretty good.
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The queue for Fenix had dropped down to about 30 minutes so we ended up having two rides, one on each wing, both of which were great. They had switched on dry ice machines under each of the bridges so instead of a headchopper effect you instead got a ‘plunge into fog’ effect, while the disorientating nature of the layout worked very well in the dark too. All in all a great ride, day or night!
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We still had half an hour till the park closed so we headed back to Troy in the hope that I could grab a quick night ride. Unfortunately it was still pretty busy so I decided to skip it rather than leave Anna alone in the DesTroy scare zone, which was really impressive. So we made our way out of the park and got on the road about ten minutes before the park closed, just as the fireworks were going off. It had been a pretty exhausting day and our feet were aching, but we had a lot of fun.
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The most amazing thing we saw on the way out was an absolutely huge queue of cars waiting to get into the park – presumably disgruntled parents coming to pick up their teenage children based on how many unaccompanied groups there were in the park that night. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen the queue to get in the park bigger than the one to get out at closing time! :D

Toverland is a really nice park – clean, lots of foliage, nice theming (if a bit derivative) and well laid out for the most part, and with the recent expansion it is making big strides forward and will hopefully continue to do so. Fenix is a fantastic addition and was our favourite coaster of this trip.

However, there are some issues that park must address if it is going to develop into a serious rival to Efteling. The lack of any type of queue time info, either at the ride entrances or on information boards, was really annoying when the park was so busy. The food is pretty dull and there didn’t seem to be a lot of options. Navigating the park in the dark and fog was very difficult, and while it looked incredible I can only imagine the lack of visibility resulted in a few accidents during the evening. And again, why so many staircases?! :(

Hopefully they’ll iron out some of these wrinkles and by the time we go back (and I’m sure we will) it will be a bigger and better organised park.

Our next two days were spent limping slowly around Amsterdam, where we visited the Anne Frank House, went on a nice sunset canal cruise and ate some fantastic food (including the best apple pie in the city!) It was a nice trip with two really good parks and 11 mostly excellent creds added to my count, so a really enjoyable end to the season for us both.
 
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