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FLY Into The New Year.


Donkey in a hat
It all began way back on the Monster Raving Goony Party, last year's triumphant Sweden run:
"This has been awesome" we said, "where should we go next?"
"Quite fancy Phantasialand in the new year" said @Mushroom , "I need to get on FLY, plus, y'know... Phantasialand in the winter!"
Just an idea to begin with, but just like a tiny acorn growing and flourishing into a mighty oak, this idea rooted firmly, sprouted lush green shoots and blossomed into a beautiful shrub of Happiness.

I think I may have been one of the first to jump on board. "I'm in" I said. 🙋‍♂️
I have unfinished business with Phantasialand, see. My first and only trip there was over 5 years ago and to be honest, apart from Taron, nothing much really pumped my 'nads. I mean, it was good... but I just didn't quite gel with the place somehow. I found it a bit brash, a bit in-your-face, a bit... artificial, y'know? I don't  want elevator lifts on my rapids rides. I don't want laser infused disco rooms on my ancient Africa-themed log flumes. And I like my theme parks to have trees.
But, I can see why people dig it and with the addition of Rookburgh I felt it was time to give the place another shot.
Other goons quickly followed suit and before we knew it, eight of us were fully on board - there was me, Mush, Mouse, Mat (mousemat? 🤔), Liz, Sue and two fresh faced newbies, Emily and Emma.
Not surprisingly, as the number of attendees grew, so did the additional park days: "Why don't we make a weekend of it and do Efteling too?" someone said. "Sure, why not?" was the unanimous verdict. I mean, that's a no brainer, right? Winter Efteling and Wintertraum at Phantasialand go together like peas and carrots.
And look.. what's this? Plopsaland is open too, maybe we could go there on the Friday? Well, y'all know my feelings on The Ride To Happiness, no way in hell I was gonna pass that up.
And so, FLY into the New Year was born, and what a resounding success it was too. 3 countries, 3 amazing parks, 800ish miles, some truly world class creds, pancakes, pizzas, ping-pong, beer a-plenty, mystery meat snacks, car chases, donkey baiting... the list of shenanigans goes on. Some of us even got to play 'hide the sausage'.

Lot of talk on the forums at the moment about it being the end of an era, no more CF Lives as we know it and sure, it makes for some depressing reading but fear not, dear reader, for the spirit of the CF Live lives on. As has already been mentioned in Serena's opening post on the Thorpe Park Live thread, this isn't just a forum, this is a place where lifelong friendships have been forged, adventures have been shared, memories have been made and the desire to keep on credding with a like-minded bunch of idiots is alive and well. Although the numbers were fewer, this felt every bit as awesome, good-natured and downright daft as an official CF Live ever was. We even made a video!
(Well, when I say 'we', I mean 'Emily'):

In fact, can I just leave it there? Surely that tells you everything you need to know? What.. no? You want actual opinions and stuff?
Oh go on then. But it won't be an exhaustive account of exactly what we did, what we ate, when, how long we waited and how many times we went to the toilet (clue; we're all old, so lots) and I didn't take many photos either so I'll just give a general overview and then other attendees can chip in with their own thoughts and pictures. You might even get a vlog or two...

Day 1, Plopsaland de Panne.
Did you know Plopsaland is only 30 minutes away from Calais? Soooo easy to get to from the tunnel. Literally drive off the train straight onto le motorway, hang a left into Belgium and boom, Plopsaland! As a channel tunnel virgin I was shocked at how quick, easy and faff-free it all was. Safe to say I'm a tunnel convert now. If I lived down south I'd be on it all the time, probably mincing over to the Benelux every other weekend.

There were six of us to start with, plus a last minute +1 in the form of Dr Dave. Sadly, @witchfinder aka Captain Comorbidities, declared himself too old to attempt all 3 parks so he and Emma would join us later that evening. That left me, @MouseAT and @Libby_Liz in the Mushmobile with Emily and @Mysterious Sue in Emily's bananamobile (so called because it's very very yellow).

It seems that Plopsaland like to make sure Ride To Happiness is fully warmed up before letting people on it and as such, it rarely opens with the park at 10am. Oh well, just enough time for the newbies to rattle off a couple of the +1's then, starting with the Dragon powered coaster (it was alright) and a quick lap of Heidi.

Named after my dog*...

... Heidi: The Ride is actually a pretty solid woodie, despite being one of the smaller GCI's out there. Fun, action packed little layout. Better than Wicker Dude I'd say, but obviously not as wild as the big boys, Troy and Wodan.

*Heidi (the dog) has fully recovered from her ear operation last year, by the way. 😁

At that point we spotted RTH going round with people on it so we hot-footed it over to, what I think, is the best coaster in Europe. Bloody love this thing I do!

Note the blue sky and bright sunshine, temperatures ranging from about 10 - 14°C, not bad for early January eh? Maybe this global warming malarkey isn't so bad after all? 🤔

The stunned silences and gawping, open-mouthed looks of astonishment on the brake run told me that The Ride To Happiness had done its job but, having had 17 laps on the thing in a single day last April, I knew it had more to give. More laps followed, both then and later in the day and sure enough, subsequent rides were wilder, faster and spinnier. One lap in particular was probably the most insane ride I've ever had on it - me and Mouse were sat in an unbalanced car at the front of the train and holy crap... it was mental! We both swore lots! On another lap, me and him just spent the entire circuit dancing to the onboard audio! Soooo good!
Yeah, for me at least, this is the best coaster in Europe. Previously I couldn't decide between this or Helix but after having ridden both in the last year I think RTH just wins out. It's absolutely fantastic! And of course, clockwork robot lady is still sexy as Hell. 😁

Congratulations to Liz for making it her 500th cred. 👏👏👏

Now if I'd had my way, we'd have spent the rest of the day simply riding RTH over and again. That's the thing with Plopsaland - it's a lovely park with decent theming and a nice, balanced selection of coasters and attractions, but since the addition of Happiness, literally every other ride in the park has now been relegated to 'filler' status. However, there were newbies among us and so, dutifully, we did the mopping up thing.

Why take a path, when a rope bridge will do...

... especially if there's a slide at the other end:

We +1'd Anubis, the roller skater, the Zierer and the super-splash. To be fair, Anubis (and Heidi The Ride, now you mention it) are both worthy of more than a casual +1 if we're being honest. Anubis is a cracking little Gerstlauer with a real gut-punch of a launch. Fun layout too. Definitely worth a few rerides if the wait times allow it.




We also did the Disk-O and the Forest of Plop (world's slowest boat ride) and minced about in the farmyard for a bit looking at pygmy goats and oversized hairy chickens.


And of course, no visit to Plopsaland is complete without saying hi to @witchfinder 's pig. It's become something of a pilgrimage these days, if you visit this park you simply have to come and pay homage to witchfinder's pig. Tradition demands it.

And so, after a couple more laps on Ride To Happiness, we decided to call it a day. We'd been up since 4am and poor Mushroom still had a near 4 hour drive to Bruhl to do that evening, bless him.

Hopefully some of the other goons will chip in with a few more thoughts and pictures soon enough.
Phantasialand is up next. 😁


Goon of the Year
I like how you forgot about the 4am leave time from the Bedford area to get to the tunnel haha

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Roller Poster
Ride to happiness honestly left me completely giddy on that first run. There is something about spinning coasters that makes me laugh….a lot RTH has got some awesome sight lines across that area of the park and I can’t really imagine that lake without it being there.

I really thought Plopsaland was a cute park, and the Forest of Plop was a standout CRB (crappy boat ride) for me. I wasn’t so keen on the terrifying human sized penguin though.

The woodie had a ton of fun pops of airtime and you can’t beat an out and back layout in my opinion. Some good theming at the end of the ride too.

Such an incredible trip and I can’t wait to see part 2 Howie!





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Giga Poster
Well, you finally did it. You've put RTH above Helix!

I have definitely considered it myself, but I think I need another marathon on Helix first.

Looking forward to your up to date thoughts on Phanny.


Hyper Poster
Howie said:
One lap in particular was probably the most insane ride I've ever had on it - me and Mouse were sat in an unbalanced car at the front of the train and holy crap... it was mental!
Yeah, that was mad. The roll after the second launch... WTF was that? I think we entered it sideways, flipped rapidly end over end, then exited backwards, but it all happened so quickly, I'm not entirely sure.

Plopsaland is just fab in general. With six amazing goons, even more so. The park was always a lot of fun, and with the addition of the world-class Ride to Happiness, I just can't get enough of the place. A big thumbs up all around.


Donkey in a hat
OK I'm gonna confess something. Now I don't want y'all getting smug about this but just between us, seeing as we're all friends n'all, there is an outside possibility that Phantasialand is maybe, possibly, potentially, a wee bit better than I may have previously given it credit for. Yes it's true, I have in the past been known to rag on the place from time to time. I think at one point... actually probably several points, I even called it a sh*tehole. Yeah, shocking, I know. But I'm I not a proud man, I'm not afraid to admit when I'm wrong and I can, with an open, humble heart, tell you that I may have been potentially, possibly slightly wrong about Phantasialand.

Not all of it is a sh*tehole.

Some parts of it are actually pretty good.

There, I said it. Happy now?

But like I said, don't be getting too smug too soon. It comes with caveats. So let's get into this:

Day 2: Phantasialand.

Today would see the full crew amassed. Goons, Assemble:


It was a Saturday, it was reasonably busy and we had burdenous Phantavirgins among us so that meant we had to do the cred run thing, starting with the low-capacity stuff first to get it out of the way. Winjas it is, then... but as we entered the park and walked down the main street past the gateway that leads to Rookburgh...


... a few of us couldn't resist the temptation of running in through the long, tunnel-like entrance for a sneaky peeky.


Oh. My. Days! 😮

You've seen the vlogs, you've watched the reaction videos of folk walking into Rookburgh for the first time, yeah... they are entirely, 100% legit.
Hands down the most astounding, jaw-dropping, immersive theme park environment I've ever seen.
Seriously, videos and pictures do not do this place justice. They just don't. At all.


... except maybe this one. Taken by our very own @Mysterious Sue , this photo, unlike any before it, truly encapsulates all the wonder, the grandeur and the attention to detail of the amazing Rookburgh:


Awesome huh?
In case you can't see it - there's steam coming out from these grates in the pavement! Steam! 😮
There's actually loads of it, but Sue expertly managed to capture the one split second of the entire day when the steam was barely visible. Only Sue 🤣
But trust me, there's steam coming out from the grates in the pavement! Steam!
How motherfudging awesome is that?

But we'll come back to Rookburgh in a bit. First up there's the serious business of mopping up the +1's to do for the noobs.
Winjas then. A pair of indoor, semi-duelling Maurer spinners with trick tracks. One is called Winjas Force, the other is called Winjas Fear. They're alright. One is better than the other. The whole experience is better if you ride the better one second. Unfortunately I don't know which is which. Let's be honest, does anybody really know which is which? I suppose CSLKenny might do, but apart from him I suspect most normal people don't really have a clue which is Force and which is Fear. You'll come here, you'll ride 'em both for the +2 and say "They were alright", and then you'll move on.

Moving on then. Seeing as it was close by, Crazy Bats was next. Last time I was here this was still plain old Temple of the Night Hawk, and it was really, really rubbish. Trundled round in the dark for 2 minutes - that's literally all it did, but joy of joys, it's had a VR makeover, and we all know what a roaring success VR has been for the coaster industry.
And check this out, is this the world's lamest coaster entrance sign, or wot?


I mean, where are we, Pleasurewood Hills? A minute ago we were in Rookburgh, with steam coming out from grates in the pavement, and now... this?

But guess what? I thought it was great. No really - it's dead good, honest! And the reason it's dead good is because the VR film is actually funny. Think of it as a comedy based dark ride now. Yes, it's a crappy old Vekoma that trundles round in the dark for 2 minutes, but the VR video capitalises on that very fact and makes it funny. Love how they took a particularly rough, rumbly section of track and incorporated it into the story line. And the end bit, where you look down and you've got cute, furry little bat hands? Tickled me, that did! 😁

One of the most frustrating things about Phantasialand, for me at least, is the weird layout. You come in, you head left to do the Winjas and Crazy Bats and then.... what? See, there's nothing else of note on this side of the park and nowhere else to go, no circular route or anything so basically you have to go back the way you came, around Rookburgh (cos you can't go through it) and back through the Berlin plaza to get to all the good stuff on the right hand side of the park. Annoying.

On our way back through Berlin we noticed that Maus au Chocolat was rocking a 10 minute queue, so we had a quick rip seeing as we were passing. Meh... not a fan. Not a fan of shooty dark rides in general to be honest, even less so when they're screen-based shooty dark rides. The 3D isn't very good, the graphics can't keep up and when you've got eight people in a car frantically blasting the living sh*t out of anything that moves it just becomes a chaotic mess that is more likely to result in an RSI than anything else. That may sound like the sour grapes of someone who simply got the lowest score, which of course they are, but my point still stands; meh. Previously this ride's one redeeming feature was the overpowering smell of chocolate on the ride and in the queue, but that wasn't working today so it was a double lose on this occasion.

Right, enough of this nonsense, it was time to ride FLY. 30 minute wait time, no biggie. Queue line is long, but it takes you on a nice scenic tour around the perimeter of Rookburgh giving lots of splendid views of the coaster and its magnificent surroundings. It really is something else.





It's a beautiful thing to be sure, an engineering marvel, a masterpiece of design. It's a very long ride, glassy smooth, the transition from the loading position to the flying position and back is a work of utter genius. In fact, everything about this coaster and the area it sits in is absolutely mind-blowing.
Except, rather crucially, for one particular thing; the actual ride experience. Sadly, it just doesn't do much. It just... flies around Rookburgh. For ages. Swoopy swoopy, flyee flyee... and on it goes. Oh, there's a couple of launches, which are ok, and I think there might have been a corkscrew or two in there somewhere, but otherwise it's just lots and lots of positive g's, swooping and flying round in a mildly uncomfortable riding position that outstays its welcome by the time you've reached the second launch. This ain't no Tatsu, that's for sure.
Long story short - it's alright.
So that's, what? 5 years of construction, plus a couple more for planning and design, god knows how many millions of €€€'s, all that secrecy, all that hype, that massive f***ing wall... all for what is essentially an extended, family friendly flying coaster that is only 'alright'? Hmm, to me, that doesn't quite add up somehow.
And let's face it, Rookburgh is so rammed full of huge, elaborate theming elements that there's zero chance of fitting anything else in there. I mean sure, there's a restaurant and a food outlet, but you ain't getting any more rides in there. No way.
What Phantasialand have done here, essentially, is not build a fabulous new steampunk area full of rides and attractions, what they've actually done is build a highly themed on-site hotel... with a rollercoaster in it. That's all.
From a business standpoint I suppose it's quite clever - any income generated solely by the Hotel Charles Lindbergh (and its restaurant) can be considered a direct return on investment - but to the casual park visitor (ie us) I can't help feeling that it was all just a bit of a waste.
We only had one ride on FLY. Sure, it would have been nice to get a couple more in but we just never found the time, I guess it just wasn't urgent enough. So again I say this; all that time, money and effort for what, on this occasion, turned out to be a one-and-done?
Sorry, Phanta fans, all things considered I'd class that as something of a fail. 😔

And on that bombshell... it was time for lunch. It was at this point that the beer and the gluhwein started flowing, so forgive me if the order of events gets somewhat fuzzy from here on in.

Dosed up on booze and bratwurst, we soldiered on.
Colorado Adventure and Black Mamba were rattled off next... I think? Colorado is one of the rides here that has gone up in my estimation. Last time I was here (Ghosterforce 2017) there was about 25 of us and, naturally, all 25 of us wanted the back row, or at least back-ish. That meant poor old Howie got stuck in the middle somewhere and it was... alright. Nowt special. But with only 9 of us it was much easier to blag one of the good seats (2nd from back, close enough) and yeah, can see now why everyone raves about it so much. Faster, wilder and a LOT more airtime at the back. Solid thumbs up.


Black Mamba was as reliable as ever, went for the front row, definitely a top-tier invert, this. If we're being completely honest and objective, on paper this is probably just as good as Nemesis, but the thing is, this is my biased opinion, I'm not being completely objective and my longstanding love for the Alton classic will never let me admit that out loud.
Except I just did. Oops... 🤫

One of the oldest, most common complaints about Black Mamba is how it's all hidden and you can't get any decent photos of it, but that's all changed now cos they've got one of those adventure trail/assault course thingies that winds its way through, over and under Black Mamba's ride area, giving some great up-close views:



Look how bright and sunny it was! We were so lucky with the weather this weekend.
And also - it's an adventure trail! Here at CF we love adventure trails, assault courses, rope bridges, slides, swings - all that good, faffy stuff.
Just look how happy the wobbly logs made us: 😀

But it's the close ups that really tell the whole story. Here is our Sue, making that face a puppy makes just before it's about to nip you on the ankle:

And as for Dr Dave, well... he looks like he might have just had a trouser accident:

There's some good photos from this part of the day - keep an eye out for Liz on the fireman's pole 😉 - but I'll let some of the others post 'em. In fact, why do I always have to write the trip reports anyway? There were 9 of us, where is everyone else's input, hmm?

Over the next couple of hours more gluhwein happened, along with things like that crappy Chinese ghost train thing, Talocan and Chiapas. Here is an exclusive, never-before-seen viewpoint of Chiapas:

"It'll be alright" said Sue "You don't normally get wet on Chiapas".
Yeah right: 🙄

I suppose it's quite good, as flume rides go... but I still don't quite understand the disco room. 🤷‍♂️

Talocan is good though, arguably the very best of the Topspins, but sadly the fire effects weren't working today which really lessened the spectacle.

Spot the goons:

So far, you may be noticing a distinct lack of any Taron action in this report. Well, fear not my lovelies because we had a plan: see, Taron is a night ride. Always has been, always will be. I know all coasters tend to be better at night, but Taron in particular is just built for that night ride experience. The lights, the mist, the music, the atmosphere, it all works sooo much better in the dark. Park closes at 8pm today so that should, in theory, give us ample time to do all the necessary mopping up before spending the final couple of hours blissfully whoring the hell out of this Intamin bad boy. As long as Raik and Mystery Castle don't give us any issues, we'll be fine... 🙄

OMG the Raik queue sucks ass!
Was only advertised at 15 minutes, but a full 45 minutes later we still hadn't got on the bastard thing. In the time we waited, it went from broad daylight, to sunset, to complete darkness.
Stupid Raik!
And it's not even that good, just a family boomerang. To be honest, I don't think any of us noticed or cared whether it was any good or not by this point, we just wanted to get it over with and get on Taron.


Queue time was advertised at 40 mins. Hmm, not ideal, but it could've been worse. I guess everyone else in the park had the same idea, huh? Despite the addition of Rookburgh and FLY, Taron still remains the big-ticket attraction here.
And besides, operations on Taron are always insanely good, and it's pretty reliable, right? It's not like it breaks down all the time, is it?

It broke down. 🤦‍♂️

Dear lord, what had we done? Had we made a terrible mistake, leaving it til last? Were we about to get spited, at this stage of the day, by the best ride in the park?
The wait was agonising. We'd already been in line for about 30 minutes, we couldn't just walk away now, this was what we came for - Taron at night! The ride had fallen silent, all the music and the misters had been turned off and after about 15 minutes people started leaving the queue in droves. Things were not looking good, but eventually, mercifully, by the grace of god, it started testing again and soon afterwards came the announcement that Taron was up and running again.
Man, you ain't ever heard a bunch of goons cheer so loudly! Not just us, the whole queue line erupted into rapturous applause. Game on! 😁

Shortly afterwards we were in the station and, buoyed by the last minute turnaround, we all waited for the front. I don't know whether it was the anxiety of the last hour and a half that made it sweeter, but wow - that front row, night ride on Taron absolutely kicked ass. All kinds of ass - big ass, little ass, any kind of ass - Taron kicked it. Sensational, truly sensational and totally worth waiting all day for.

We could have easily rounded things off there, that would have been a great way to end a great day, we knew it couldn't get much better than that we had just experienced, so why bother trying?
But here's the thing, we're a determined bunch us lot, and despite all the setbacks there was still another 20 minutes til the park closed and Mystery Castle was only showing a 10 min queue.
Mayyyyybe, just maybe, if we ran, and I mean really ran, we could get over to Mystery Castle, do that, and then hot-foot it back over to Taron for one last ride before the queue closes?
The verdict was unanimous: "Let's do it!"

We did it! 😁
Mystery Castle turned out to haxe zero wait time and we enjoyed it lots, another ride here that has gone up in my estimation since the last visit. Very, very good indeed.
And yes, we made it back to Taron just before the entrance closed and rode the very last train of the day. Just as before, it absolutely kicked ass. Brilliant, brilliant coaster - faster, more ferocious and more airtime than I remember from my previous visit. Maybe calling it a 'Glorified Rita' was a bit harsh after all.
On the European stage I still prefer things like Helix, Shambhala, Untamed and of course The Ride To Happiness, but I do think Taron is the best coaster in Germany by quite some margin.
What a way to end the day!

Thank you Phantasialand. Xx


Stay tuned for Efteling, coming soon.

Ps; seeing as I got lumbered with writing this trip report and no one else can be arsed, not all of these photographs are my own - I've helped myself to a bunch of pictures from the group chat we had going and so, in the spirit of giving due credit...

"All photography courtesy of the Cred Crew TM. " 😉
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Roller Poster
How could I write anything better than this glorious trip report. The details, the little jokes, those moments I’d almost forgotten about….Phantasialand was an amazing day and that night ride on Taron after such a long wait was mind blowing.

I will never again enter the Raik queue though, that crappy +1 cost us another run on Taron for sure

I also have no idea how they managed to build this incredibly cool adventure walkthrough right in the middle of Black Mamba, looks like a logistical nightmare.

The only thing you left out Howie was the wonderful 30 minutes we spent leaving the park, as slowly as possible, using the most roundabout route we could possibly take.

If you visit Phantasialand, make sure it is at a time of year when you get to see it all lit up. The lights in the Asian area and in the main square were truly magical and it topped off the most incredible day so well.








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Giga Poster
If you’ve read any of my trip reports before you’ll know I tend to waffle a lot so I’m going to try not to do that since @Howie has summed up things up so eloquently already.

As he already mentioned, I joined the trip a little late as the idea of getting up at 4am to drive to Belgium didn’t really appeal. Instead I flew to Cologne on Friday night and was joined by my friend and fledgling goon Emma, who cheekily invited herself along after hearing about this trip during a conversation at work. 😆

Bringing a noob along, I felt a little bit responsible for ensuring she had a good time, but I didn’t need to worry as she was warmly welcomed to the group and didn’t take long to fit in. Thanks to everyone that made her so welcome but specifically @Libby_Liz who made the extra effort before and during the trip. One of the highlights of this weekend was seeing her and @misstech reacting to these two top tier European parks for the first time with childlike glee. Emma has now pretty much gone “full goon” and is already intending to join us on future European park trips. 🤷‍♂️

Anyway, before we travelled to Bruhl on Friday night we had a quick mooch around Cologne and sampled some local food and beer at Max Stark, which I highly recommend. I couldn’t resist trying the pork knuckle, a humongous ham hock coasted in delicious crackling. I generally have a huge appetite but could barely manage half of this monster! We also took the opportunity to sample the local Kolsch beer, unique to the region, which is served in diddy 200ml glasses.




On to the park visits then and my thoughts on my second ever visit to Phantasialand and my first time since 2016, the year Taron opened. :oops:

I already loved this park but seeing it decorated for Christmas was really quite wonderful. It was a busy day but we still managed to get rides on virtually everything we wanted to, though I could have happily just ridden Taron all day. 😁


Danger - hot stuff! 🤩

As Dave has said, Rookburgh is absolutely incredible. The level of detail is far beyond necessary but that’s Phantasialand all over. I probably enjoyed FLY a bit more than he did – the launches were more powerful than I expected, the interactions were good, it had airtime somehow, and the loading and flying positions were far more comfortable than B&M flyers. It’s definitely the best flyer out there but I do have to agree that it’s very much a family thrill level coaster and is not in the same league as the other double-launch coaster in the park. That the park spent all that time and money on a glorious-looking area for the sake of one fairly average ride seems bizarre, but again, that’s what they do.




In terms of rides that I didn’t get on last time I visited, both Mystery Castle and Talocan were great, with thrills to match their brilliant theming. I wasn’t sure how I’d fare on the latter, not being a fan of spinny rides. I’m not sure I’ve ever ridden a Top Spin before, certainly not as an enthusiast, so I figured if I was going to ride one, it may as well be the best. Turned out it wasn’t too nausea-inducing and I would definitely like to ride it again with the flame effects on.



One ride that really impressed me on this visit was Black Mamba, which was insanely forceful and has worked its way back up to third place in my B&M Invert rankings, behind the mighty duo of Nemesis and Montu. I would’ve liked to ride it again at night but there was another coaster that demanded our time after dark.


And so to Taron, the ride that was my number one coaster from the time I first rode it in 2016 until September last year when it was dethroned by Steel Vengeance. Could it regain its crown or would it not live up to the great memories I had of it from over six years ago? Well, one front row ride in the dark and those memories came flooding back, and it was just as good as I remembered, if not better. The speed, the airtime, the whippy turns and that second launch, which is without doubt the best singular moment on any coaster I’ve experienced. Oh yes, it was just incredible. Better than SteVe? Probably not, but the two rides are so different that it’s really impossible to compare them. They are both the absolute best at what they do and are far and away the best two coasters I’ve ever ridden, so I’m just delighted that I’ve been able to. They’re effectively joint first! 🥰

Those were my highlights of revisiting this park, but to be honest the best part of it all was spending the day with a great group of friends, all of whom shared the passion for theme parks and coasters, and we had plenty of fun throughout the day that had nothing to do with rides – chatting, eating, drinking and goofing about.

And that was just day one – things were going to get even more entertaining the next day, but I’ll let @Howie tell you about that first. :D

Picture dump, including the African Adventure trail…













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Giga Poster
Unfortunately I don't know which is which. Let's be honest, does anybody really know which is which? I suppose CSLKenny might do, but apart from him I suspect most normal people don't really have a clue which is Force and which is Fear.
yup me and everyone who looks at the sign over the end of the stairs into the station which signposts which side is which 😝😝


Strata Poster
Equally, if you listen on the lifts, the audio does say something along the lines of "Enter the world of Winjas Fear / Force", depending on which one you're on.

C'mon Howie, it's not THAT mysterious ;)


Donkey in a hat
Did you all see that video that Efteling put out not long ago on their social meeja? The one with the park covered in a blanket of snow?
This one:

Aww, have you ever seen anything more enchanting? See, you just wouldn't get that from Phantasialand.
This is why I'm on Team Efteling. It might not have the hardcore thrills of Taron, or a themed area to rival Rookburgh, but Efteling is a vibe. If you 'get' it, you'll love it. If you don't 'get' it, then you'll almost certainly be on Team Phantasialand. That's just the way it is. If you were to draw a Venn diagram of enthusiast preferences, the Efteling circle and the Phantasialand circle would barely overlap I reckon. Both amazing parks, but just so different from each other that it's like comparing apples to... I dunno, puppies or sumat, let alone oranges.

It wasn't snowing when we were there though. In fact it was lovely, not quite shorts & T shirt weather but dry, bright and sunny again. Result!


Just look at that entrance building. I know it's been said a thousand times before but... Best theme park entrance in the world. It just is. You always forget how big it actually is too, pictures don't really capture the sheer size of the thing - in the flesh it is huge!
Compare that to the 1970's shopping precint style entrance to Phantasialand, as seen here:

This would be my third visit to Efteling, the first being way back in 2002 and I think it may have been my first ever European theme park, so I do kinda think of the place as an old friend. Plus I'm half Dutch, so there definitely could be a slight bias here... 🤷‍♂️

This is all very well Howie, but what's this I hear about a sausage?
Ok, at the breakfast buffet that morning someone, can't remember who, nicked a few items to keep as emergency calories for use later in the day. You know the drill - a banana, couple of mini muffins and.... yes, a sausage. A spreadable sausage, no less.
First thing you may be asking yourself is... wtf is a spreadable sausage? Well, we came to the collective conclusion that it must be some sort of paté type substance, but we never actually opened it so no one really knows for sure.
Here is the sausage, last seen on Mushroom's dashboard shortly before the return journey home:


You guessed it, throughout the day we played 'hide the sausage'. Place the sausage upon somebody's personage without them knowing. Pockets, bags, hoods, nothing was safe.
You know what? Now I've written it down it doesn't sound that funny, but you know how childish and stupid we all are when a bunch of us get together at a theme park. On the day it was hilarious.
Plus, y'know, just like the day before, beer and mulled wine started flowing quite early on soooo.... 🤪

To the creds, then. Max and Moritz was first as nearly everyone in the group needed the +2. Nice little pair of family powered coasters, nothing special. Station is nicely themed and onboard audio is a big plus. Love a bit of onboard audio, me.


Actually, I'm already struggling to remember what we did next. Maybe Matt N has a good point - write it on the day, get it out the way? 🤔

Anyway, here is a picture of Mat pulling Emma on a trolley because... I'm not even sure why to be honest. One minute you're queueing for Villa Volta and the next, you turn round and see Mat pulling Emma on a trolley: 🤷‍♂️


See? The cocking about had started already and it wasn't even lunchtime yet.

Villa Volta was next, then.


Not bad as Madhouses go, obviously Hex is still king of the Madhouses, but it's one of the 'best of the rest', as it were. Pre-show is a bit long and waffly, but it's all about the music with these things and the soundtrack here, much like the rest of Efteling's park music, is fab!

Vogel Rok happened shortly afterwards. That's the one with the big birdie out front.

S'alright. As a coaster it's quite nondescript, smooth and fairly forceless, but once again it's elevated by some really cool onboard audio.

The Ravelijn show was really good though. It had horses:

And it had fire:

Plus, y'know, a few stunts, couple of big illusions, more grand music and shed loads of crap acting.
Last time I was here, me and @Sandman really wanted to watch this, but we got lost in the Fairytale Forest and couldn't find the arena in time 🤦‍♂️, so it was nice to finally be able to see it, especially as today would be the last day it was performed for a while.

Weirdly, that's one of the reasons I like Efteling so much - I love a park you can get lost in. That thing where you can be in a theme park all day, and then at 5 o'clock you suddenly find yourself in a whole new area that you haven't been in yet.
Or when it's your third visit and you still find quirky little indoor attractions that you never knew existed. That's Efteling all over, that is.
Here is a list of things we did at Efteling today that I never knew existed before:

1. The Efteling museum. Small, but mildly interesting and worth a 10 minute browse. It had an old piece of original Python track on display, so that was quite cool:

2. That really cool miniature railway setup, hidden away in some random building somewhere.
Who here is old enough to remember when Alton Towers had something similar in the ground floor of the towers themselves, by where the exit to Hex now is? Not many, I bet...

3. This carousel:

Efteling has lots of carousels. Hard to say how many exactly - no doubt you could walk past the same one a few times and not realise it - but there's definitely more than one and I definitely hadn't seen this one before, again hidden away in some building, so we had a rip. It was alright. I rode the pig... well, maybe not the pig, we all know the pig is back at Plopsaland...

... but a pig nonetheless.

4. The Indian Water Lilies.
Ah yes, the Indian Water Lilies. One of the highlights of the day, for sure. We all know about Efteling's Fairytale Forest, but what I didn't know was that many of the 'displays', for want of a better word, 'do things' periodically. Y'know, cute little animatronics and stuff. The cutest of all is probably the Indian Water Lilies:

I have no idea what on Earth this is all about, or what those Dutch nutters had been schmoking when they came up with it.. but it's amazing (and also... I want some 😁 ).

5. The Donkey.

One day, come hell or high water, I will find a donkey in a hat, and when that day comes, man, it's gonna be sweet. Until that day comes however, have one that shoots coins out of it's arse. No, really...

6. The Pancake House.

This was where we had lunch and... y'know, some more beers. It was very nice. Beer and pancakes, good combo, that.

After lunch, along with the continued sausage shenanigans, we had a rip on Symbolica:


Probably one of the most lavishly themed dark rides in Europe, but... I dunno, still not quite sure I 'get' it, or what role it plays in Efteling's line up. It's just... a tour of a castle. 🤷‍♂️
Although I do quite like the whale bit.
Just a personal observation here, but this and Maus au Chocolat at Phanta are 2 of the most well known and highly praised indoor rides in Europe right? One is a trackless dark ride, one is a screen based shooter, but personally I don't rate either of them particularly highly. However, if you were to somehow combine the two and have a screen based, shooting, trackless dark ride, then that might be something I could get on board with, especially if they make it smell nice too!
<cough> Did someone say Popcorn's Revenge at Walibi Belgium? Sounds good, maybe we should go there? 🤔 <cough>

Sadly Droomvlucht was closed today - love that ride, me - but we did have a go on Fat Morgan, the scenic boat ride:

It's pretty good. With scenes of slavery, animal abuse, prostitution and casual racism, it has everything a family boat ride needs. Actually I'm not certain about this, but I've got a feeling some of the more non-pc stuff has been altered or removed over recent years. I'm sure there were more boobies on display last time. Or maybe I was just sitting on the wrong side of the boat? Dunno. 🤔

Believe it or not, in between all the cocking about, getting pissed and hiding the sausage we did actually manage to ride the creds too. Not Joris en de Draak, obviously, cos that was still being retracked (we saw it testing though and apparently in opened the very next day, gutted! 😭) but we did do the Flying Dutchman. Here we all are on the Dutchman boat:



We did Baron 1898:


And we did Python:


You know the drill with these three coasters, nothing much new to report here. The dark ride section of Flying Dutchman is amazing, like... really amazing, but the coaster section is a bit crap. Baron is the prettiest B&M dive coaster in the world and Python is fairly ordinary but, ever since the retrack, is smoother than the cream in a Twinkie.
Come to think of it, the last time I was here was when the retrack was in progress so I hadn't actually ridden this coaster in over 20 years, was nice to get back on the old girl. Plus, y'know, it's technically a new coaster, so that's a bonus +1, right? 😁

Nothing too intense but as I said, it's not about the big thrills here, Efteling is a vibe more than anything. In fact, the scariest thing you can probably do here is take a gamble on one of the Mystery Meat Snack vending machines:

Will it be beef? Will it be chicken? Will it be... erm, something else? Who knows. You pays your 2€ and you takes your chances!

I think that pretty much covers everything. We rounded out the day by watching the Aquanura fountain show, getting lost in the Fairytale Forest (again) in search of Sue's Indian Water Lilies (see above) and then catching the Aquanura show (again) on the way out. It's pretty spectacular to be honest:




It was an awesome day. Actually, it was an awesome 3 days. Three brilliant and, very different parks, amazing company, lots of laughs and cocking about, just... awesome.
Thank you to everyone who came along, thank you to the noobs for not being totally freaked out by how weird we all are and an extra special thank you to @Mushroom and @misstech for being our drivers for the trip. You are awesome.

There's just one thing left that I'm sure you're all dying to know...

Where is the sausage now? 🤔

It's still in play. That's all I'm saying.
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Giga Poster
Who here is old enough to remember when Alton Towers had something similar in the ground floor of the towers themselves, by where the exit to Hex now is? Not many, I bet...
I am, and the Gerry Anderson exhibition that was around there as well. #oldguys

Another fab write-up that captured the essence of that day really well. I have a few additional thoughts myself, but I'll save them for another day (most likely tomorrow :D)


Hyper Poster
Another sad old git who remembers the model railway well.
Ran through day and night in about half an hour, and it was a massive layout, you could walk all the way round it.
Been gone thirty years now.