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Parks & F1 - Belgium/Netherlands 2022 (Day 6 - Drievliet & Duinrell)

Indy

Mega Poster
Not going to lie, this feels borderline silly. A lot of these parks have been covered a good bit, including very recently by Hixee, but screw it. It's been years since I created a trip report and have never done one on CoasterForce, so why not?

I've mentioned it before, but I rarely travel just for parks. It's almost always tied to something else, commonly auto racing. This trip was no exception. I went to the Dutch Grand Prix last year and had an amazing time. When I had the opportunity to buy tickets again for this year's race, I received the blessing from my significant other to go back. I had planned to do Belgian parks in conjunction with the race last year, but the floods closed Walibi Belgium, and Plopsaland was only open on the weekends so I ended up only doing Walibi Holland, Toverland, and Efteling last year. I was not going to miss the former parks this year. Tack on the fact that this was rumored to be the last year of the Belgian Grand Prix and I decided to make it one giant double grand prix trip with parks wedged in between.

So, here we go...

Day 0 - Traveling to the Europe and half day (more or less)

I flew into Schipol on Friday, August 26th and was really playing the day by ear. I technically had a ticket for Friday track activity at the circuit, but rain was forecasted and I really didn't want to potentially deal with the muddy mess that I know Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps can become. Itching to ride FLY, I made the 3+ hour drive to Phantasialand to experience the ride and return to my beloved Taron, Black Mamba, and Winjas. I got to the park around 3:15-3:30pm and found all of the ticket offices closed. I went online and found that I could only buy a ticket for the following day. At this moment, I walked up to the gate and asked the attendant where I could buy a ticket. She informed that they closed their ticket sales at 2pm and would not let me in. Immediately I realized that the day was completely wasted.

I was stunned. I shouldn't have been because this wasn't the first time this type of thing had happened to me in Germany. I just don't understand it. Somebody is standing at your gate and willing to pay money to walk in. What difference does it make if there are only a few hours left in the day? Take the money and run. I will never understand this approach. Defeated, I left and decided to simply drive to my hotel for the weekend in Gulpen, Netherlands and drown my sorrows.

Funny story about that. When I first went to the Belgian Grand Prix, I stayed in Maastricht and found a beer by Gulpener Brewery that I absolutely loved. I decided to book a hotel right next to the brewery this year. The only problem is that I was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance a few months ago so I can no longer drink most beer. I couldn't be bothered to find a new hotel though and Gulpen seemed like a lovely town, so I stuck with it. I wasn't wrong. It proved to be a fantastic little town.

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Looking down the street towards my hotel in Gulpen.

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Gupen city centre.

Day 1 & 2 - Belgian Grand Prix

I won't waste time because this isn't a Formula 1 website. Regardless, Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is probably my favorite place on the planet and I had an amazing time. Here is a single photo from race day...

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After the race, I drove to Leuven, Belgium where I would stay for the next two nights. The fact that it took me 6 hours to get there due to traffic was a bit of annoyance, but I was just happy to find myself in a city that had late night food and drink options. And the city centre was astonishingly beautiful...

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Leaven Town Hall was quite breathtaking at night

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The city wasn't hurting for late night drink options.

The creds are coming, I promise...
 

Indy

Mega Poster
Day 3 - Walibi Belgium

After getting denied last year due to the floods, I was not going to miss out this year. Kondaa beckoned. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Walibi Holland last year so I was excited to see how Walibi Belgium measured up.

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I got into the park about 10 minutes before opening, or at least ride opening. I loved the attempt to build a flower "W." Execution isn't great from this viewpoint, but I still appreciate the effort. Eventually, the clock struck 10 and the gate opened, allowing people to rush towards the rides. Most rushed back towards Kondaa, but I was hoping to get by without the express pass, so I made my way directly towards the low capacity coasters...

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First up was Cobra. In a lot of ways, I felt like I was getting part of the beating out of the way early. A 20+ year old boomerang with hard OTSRs couldn't possibly be kind, but I was very wrong. I found this to be one of the best boomerangs in existence. I barely hung on to the restraint. For whatever reason, the transitions were much kinder than most boomerangs. No headbanging. Dare I say that I quite enjoyed it. I was also impressed with the level of theming in the area.

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I was pretty quickly impressed with how nice the park is. It is very well manicured and kept. This also might seem like a strange photo choice, but as an American, I'm always surprised when I see pathways without fencing on each side. The humans are free to roam if they really want. How unusual.

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After a quick spin on the Vekoma Mad House and upon finding Fun Pilot still closed, I went directly to Psyke Underground. As a Schwarzkopf stan, I was really excited to experience this heavily modified contraption. It was fun to see the old flywheel being used for theming in the queue.

The ride? It was weird. Really weird and I thoroughly enjoyed it. First, there was the control room animation. I don't know what the characters were saying, but I can guess. Nevertheless, the fact that animated characters were being used for a thrill ride seemed like a weird choice, but I was there for it. Then, there was the super strange launch. You roll forward slowly as they do an audible countdown. The launch then hits right on cue. It's always sad to see a flywheel bite the dust, but this LSM launch was punchy. Even with the countdown and rolling start, the force of the launch caught me by surprise a little bit. I just assumed it would be pretty gentle.

The rear spike was nothing special since the braking was a bit hard prior, but regardless, I really enjoyed the ride.

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I quickly made my way back to see if Fun Pilot was running and was in luck. There were a handful of British goons a few groups in front of me in the queue and I was tempted to say something, but decided to keep my antisocial mouth shut.

The ride was fine. About what you expect. The theming was nice though.

Next up was Tiki Waka...

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This was when I began to wonder if I had made a strategic mistake. Sure, I had three low capacity creds under my belt, but I got to Tiki Waka to find that it was listed at a 40 minute wait. They weren't wrong. It proved to be about 40 minutes. It couldn't be helped though. Well, that's a lie. It could, but I still couldn't be bothered to fork for the express pass... yet.

The ride has always seemed like a strange design. The first several drops and turns are just so high off the ground. It doesn't look nearly as weird in person though.

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This is an engineering nerd moment, and there will probably be a few of these during this trip report, but I don't care. There are several strange details about this ride. First, the base of the supports are completely submerged in water. Gerstlauer is kind of odd anyway in that they cover the base plates and hardware of their supports in concrete. I understand why they do it, but it's still strange and not too common. This takes it a step further though. The entire footer is submerged so the steel is constantly sitting in water. That seems less than desirably from a maintenance standpoint, but I can't lie, it looks better when the large footers aren’t sticking out everywhere.

Second, Gerstlauer uses these super thick plate washers to bolt the track to the supports. I've never noticed this before. Again, super nerdy, but I was fascinated by it.

As for the ride? It was fine. I admittedly was a little let down. Maybe I inadvertently had high expectations. My expectations for Vilda Musen at Grona Lund were pretty low and I was so pleasantly surprised that it kind of raised the bar for Tiki Waka. Don't get me wrong, it was fun, but just not as interesting as I expected. Definitely not worth a 40 minute wait, but I'm glad to see the ride is so popular with the park.

On to the main event...

Kondaa.

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The theming was really nice. The station and entire area in front of the ride was very well executed. This entire area has a ton of potential.

I opted for the single rider line on my first ride, which proved to only be slightly quicker than the normal queue, but it is what it is. There must have been something wrong with the contacts in the station because the second car of both trains was empty all day. I had never seen anything like that before. Minor detail though.

The first ride was good. It was really good, but admittedly not quite as good as I hoped. The first airtime hill certainly delivered and there were some solid forces throughout the rest of the ride, but it wasn't quite as intense as I expected. I was worried that those last few tiny hills before the brake run would be too harsh and I would hate them as much as the last four hills on Steel Vengeance, but it wasn't the case. They were masterfully shaped to provide solid forces without the herky jerky violence of SV's finale.

Super fun ride. I'd be back to experience it once it was even more warmed up. But next was Calamity Mine...

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First, the Calamity Mine queue provides the best view of the non-inverting cobra roll. It's a bit of a shame that it's so hard to see from almost everywhere else in the park.

As for the ride itself, I thoroughly enjoyed it. As an American, I am so accustomed to Arrow mine trains that are poorly shaped and beat the crap out of you that I don't know what to do with myself every time I experience a Vekoma mine train. For a mine train, it was a lot of fun. The fact that it was a walk on was nice as well.

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Next up was Pulsar. I hate getting wet at parks. I loathe it. Nevertheless, I love Mack Rides and wasn't about to miss out. The single rider line was very beneficial for this ride and I found myself with a front row right seat in less than 10 minutes.

The ride? I loved it. Maybe irrationally so. The launch punched pretty hard given Mack's notoriously weak launches and the back spike was inexplicably fun. I got wet though. Very, very wet. Everything above my arm in the photo above was absolutely soaked. At least my shoes were bone dry.

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After Pulsar, I decided my body was ready for Loup Garou. I knew it couldn't possibly be an outstanding ride, but I was ready to experience it.

The area was super strange. Walibi Holland had its odd areas where you could tell the park was haphazardly expanded by the old Six Flags management. It took me longer to find it at Walibi Belgium, but I eventually stumbled upon it and this was a major part. The field in front of the ride with the random plastic chairs just seemed so incredibly odd and awkward. It made for a decent photo with the Walibi Belgium letters, but still feels a bit lazy and underutilized for an area that is so close to the front the park.

The ride itself was so much wilder than I ever imagined. It wasn't good. At all. But it wasn't vile. The three bench trains did the ride no favors. The cars would literally teeter totter in a way that I've never experienced before and they really struggled to negotiate those turns. There were some pretty brutal transitions periodically throughout the ride. That being said, it hauled throughout the entire layout. The pacing was shocking. I was totally expecting to get destroyed while meandering through the layout. Instead, I got destroyed while blasting through the layout. I enjoyed it to a certain degree, but had no desire to do it again.

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This is when I caved for the express pass. I didn't buy the overall package, but instead opted for a few individual passes. I could not bring myself to wait 40 minutes to ride an SLC. Wasn't happening. So, I spent the 5 euro to skip the line.

This was also another area where it was obvious that the old Six Flags/Premier Parks management was responsible for the addition. It reminded me of Goliath where you have to walk down a dead-end path to get to the ride. It's frustrating that there was seemingly no plan to really integrate these additions into the rest of the park.

Like Loup Garou, it wasn't good. But like Cobra, it was one of the better SLCs I've experienced. The transitions were generally much smoother than your typical SLC. And while I still have no idea why, I found this SLC to be remarkably intense. Far more intense than your average SLC. It honestly made me a little dizzy with how quickly it was ploughing through the inversions. Again, I enjoyed it to a certain degree, but had no desire to ride it again.

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After two consecutive less-than-friendly rides, I made my way to Popcorn Revenge, but not before making a few friends.

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Again, I was really impressed with the theming of this area and the park as a whole. I'm not a dark ride person, but I was kind of looking forward to this while not really knowing what to expect. I would ride Challenge Of Tutankhamon later and honestly preferred Popcorn Revenge. Both were fantastic dark rides, but I loved the theme and interaction of Popcorn Revenge more m. It was silly but a ton of fun.

At this point, it was mid-afternoon and time to go give Kondaa a few more laps.

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Despite the great theming, the location feels a bit bare. I look forward to when the park fills this section in a little bit more. Regardless, the ride is still quite nice to look at.

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The normal queue also offers some pretty close views of the trains in action.

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I originally intended on giving Kondaa one more go via the normal queue, but I had to run back around and give it another spin via the single rider line. Like earlier, it proved to not matter much as I waited about the same amount of time, but holy smokes, this thing delivers once it is warmed up. The morning ride was really good. The afternoon rides were phenomenal. Every single element was a step up. There are certainly a few areas that could theoretically be improved a little; the wave turn could be more pronounced. However, I absolutely loved the ride and could solidly say it had found its way to my top ten list.

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Against better judgment, I opted to do the log flume prior to leaving because it actually looked kind of fun. I looooathe log flumes. Again, I hate getting wet and log flumes are often the worst. Most people getting off seemed like they were fairly dry though, so I thought it was worth a shot. I was wrong. Very wet again. And the ride wasn't as themed as I had hoped, but the reverse drop was a nice touch and the double down drop was good fun. I don't entirely regret doing it.

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Overall, I absolutely loved the park. Sure, there are a lot of clone coasters, but I found the selection to be generally strong. Having another quality thrill coaster like an RMC Loup Garou would really elevate it. And the park itself was beautiful. I wish more parks in the US were as clean, well-manicured, well-maintained, and well-themed as Walibi Belgium.

So, 9 creds into the trip and I ranked them as follows:

1. Kondaa
2. Pulsar
3. Psyke Underground
4. Cobra
5. Calamity Mine
6. Tiki Waka
7. Loup Garou
8. Vampire
9. Fun Pilot
 
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Indy

Mega Poster
Continuing to shake the cobwebs off my trip reporting. It’s kind of hard to talk about your thoughts when nobody is asking for them…

Day 4 - Bobbejaanland & Bellewaerde

I’m not going to lie, I was irrationally excited about this one. You all remember the book Roller Coaster by David Bennett that was published in ’98? I remember getting that book for Christmas and it was next level compared to the other books that were available at the time. It was filled with rides and photos that I had never seen or heard of before. One of these was Air Race at Bobbejaanland, now Dreamcatcher. I was fascinated with the cartoonish plane trains.

Fast forward to 2004, I became enamored with the place when they opened Typhoon. You may laugh now, but the Eurofighter was such a fascinating ride at the time. A beyond vertical drop? Are you kidding? Typhoon really stepped up from the relatively short Vild Svinet. Four inversions including some pretty funky heartline rolls? It just wasn’t that common back then and the oddity of it had me captivated.

Factoring in all of the reviews I heard and read over the years about how strange the park is, it just continued to climb up my list of desired parks. Finally, the day was upon me to check it off the list. However, knowing that it wasn’t really a full day affair, my hope was to wrap the park up as quickly as possible and then head to Bellewaerde in the afternoon and get as much in there as I could (while also hoping to avoid another Phantasialand situation).

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I seriously underestimated how busy these parks would be on a week day. As soon as the rope dropped, I went straight to Fury. I waited maybe ten minutes, but by the time I was in the station, the queue was already clearly full.

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First run, I decided to try and get a backwards ride. Once I sat down and attempted to cast my vote, I was convinced that the voting system wasn’t actually functional, but @Hixee’s experience seems to dispel that notion. Regardless, I got the backwards ride that I hoped for.

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The ride experience was truly excellent. Sure, it had a little bit of Gerstlauer’s trademark shakiness, but I thoroughly enjoyed the layout. It was weird, it was forceful, and the backwards nature meant I was always caught by surprise. I absolutely loved it. This thing should be getting cloned and I’m slightly stunned that nobody else has bought one. It’s compact and on a plot that really isn’t all that large. Not to mention it looks so menacing.

After a quick glance at the queues in the vicinity, I knew that I had to fork out for the express pass if I was to maintain any hope of getting time at Bellewaerde. I opted for the medium option which simply provided one ride on all of the major attractions and headed back towards the Fury area.

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At this point, I was getting nervous about my chances of riding Typhoon. Maintenance folks were working on the ride which was encouraging, but it didn’t seem like it was a small issue. So, I decided to head right back to Fury to get a forwards ride.

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The theming of Fury is quite nice, but upon going up the express pass queue, it became apparent that the express system was fairly new…

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Express pass riders had to climb through this window into the station where they had clearly cut off the dungeon window lattice and casually caulked over the metal edges. This whole situation is a never-in-America scene for multiple reasons, so I was quite amused.

The ride op asked me if I wanted to go forwards or backwards as opposed to forwards or vote, which led me to continue to believe that the voting system doesn’t actually work, but I guess it’s just exceedingly rare that the voting side goes forward.

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While I think I prefer backwards, the forwards ride was almost equally great. Again, I loved this ride. Clone it. Now.

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Between Fury and Naga Bay was this charming little area. I know spots like this aren’t terribly uncommon in parks in Europe, but I still think they are so very cool and fantastical. I partook in hopping on the pads myself.

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Next up was Naga Bay which I don’t have a lot to say about. It was perfectly enjoyable, but the drop off of the first block brake was the only real noteworthy moment. Everything else was fun, but relatively tame. I will never complain about a custom Maurer spinner, but this one lacked the punch and fun elements that Spinball Whizzer and Winjas offer.

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At this point, I was in search of a restroom and found one in some random building that had rides. Because the park didn’t seem to have park maps, I had no idea what was inside of here, but in finding a restroom, I also found the entrance to Revolution.

I’m dating myself here, but It’s only as I type this that I realize that I have now ridden the only two Vekoma Illusions to ever exist. I was looking forward to experiencing the ride, but I had a general idea of what to expect even though it had been an insanely long time since I last rode one.

It was enjoyable enough. A strange ride, and I like strange rides, but still nothing to write home about. The incredibly long trains provide some weird forces on occasion which is always a good time, but I can’t help but wonder if the ride experience would be better with a shorter train. Anyway, time to go stumble upon the next cred in the park…

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The theming that I was seeing on this side of the park was generally pretty impressive. Speedy Bob is of course a standard Mack wild mouse. It ran well enough. At this point, I knew that my express pass money was well spent.

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I loved the aesthetic of this. Nevertheless, as an American, it is funny to see so much of this park themed to the Wild West.

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Finally, it was time to experience the ride that first sparked my interest in the park: Dreamcatcher. It also helps me generally point to what made this park really interesting for a coaster collection standpoint. Typhoon was the 2nd Eurofighter. Fury is one of a kind. Naga Bay is a custom Maurer spinner. Revolution is one of only two models ever built and the only in existence. Dreamcatcher is one of three ever built. Oki Doki is a custom family coaster. For a small park, it has a pretty interesting collection.

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Nerdy, but I liked the station. No drop floor or anything and a slot in the middle to stabilize the cars. Perfectly rational solution, but I had never seen anything like it.

The ride itself left a bit to be desired. For a coaster that I had looked forward to for so long, it was a let down. In all fairness I didn’t really expect a lot either, but was still a little let down. The swinging felt really dampened, and despite being a suspended coaster I took a few nice shots to the head by the restraint. I was happy to ride it, but also happy to move on to the next coaster.

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Walking from Dreamcatcher towards Oki Doki, the park began to feel a little two faced. The right/south side felt well themed and charming. The north side felt neglected and at times bare. This stretch felt really strange.

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Next was Oki Doki. I have a strange appreciation for custom Vekoma family coasters. Weird, I know, but sometimes they can produce some fun little layouts for what they are. I liked the interaction over the midway that Oki Doki provided, but the layout was fairly drawn out and unremarkable.

After this, I stumbled upon Indiana River. A lot of friends told me about a ride that was pretty offensive and played to terrible stereotypes, and since the ride was on my express pass and I knew it was slated to be rethemed, I decided to give it a go.

Not only was it not offensive, but it was a ******* log flume and I got wet… again. Not happy. Nevertheless, it was a fairly neat indoor flume and I didn’t entirely regret it.

Shortly after, I came across El Paso and immediately realized my goof. I rode it. Just wow.

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With my self-imposed time deadline approaching, I couldn’t be bothered to wait for the powered coaster so I made my way back around to Typhoon and was thrilled to see that it was up and running!

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Love might be a strong word, but I really really enjoyed this ride. I was fully prepared to get concussed, but it refused to deliver. There were a couple of jarring moments, but I found the ride to be extremely tolerable. The heartline rolls were even weirder than I ever imagined and the turn pictured above was decently intense. It doesn’t hold a candle to Fury, but I honestly enjoyed it way more than I expected.

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With Typhoon checked off, I was able to comfortably leave Bobbejaanland and begin the two-ish hour drive to Bellewaerde!

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Learning at least one lesson from the Phantasialand debacle, I bought a ticket for Bellewaerde before I left Bobbejaanland. I just had to hope that they hadn’t closed the gate altogether like I once experienced at Klotten. I arrived at the park around 2:45pm and had zero issues entering, fortunately!

I was looking forward to this park as it is a Compagnie des Alpes property and I have loved my experiences at Walibi Holland and Walibi Belgium. Two things were immediately apparent shortly after entering Bellewaerde: 1) it was going to be as nice as the other two CdA properties I’d visited, and 2) it was going to be a very different type of park.

I was of course aware of the collection of coasters that Bellewaerde has, but I did not know much else. I was not aware of how spread out the park is nor did I realize how animal-centric the place is. It certainly had plenty of charm, but it was not what I envisioned in my head (and that is fine).

First thing’s first, I beelined to Wakala, arguably the most interesting coaster in the park. With a 45 minute queue, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it had a single rider line and even more pleasantly surprised to see that the single rider line was fairly short.

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If you give me an opportunity to take a photo of a lift hill like this, I am going to take the shot.

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Nerd moment. I have never noticed these pivoting contraptions near the lift chain on Gerstlauers before and I honestly am not sure what they are for. I have a few solid guesses, but I was a bit intrigued.

Moving on, I really liked Wakala. As mentioned before, I like weird rides and this fit the bill. It had some super strange shaping including turns that were slightly outwardly banked and also had some pretty fun, whippy turns for a family coaster. And the spike worked pretty well. I’m glad it occurs at the end of the ride because switch tracks tend to slaughter pacing. It doesn’t matter as much when the switch track is literally the end of the ride.

Even though the exit of Wakala spits you out very close to Dawson Duel, I wasn’t going to prioritize it and instead decided to head to the opposite end of the park which is when I began to understand how large Bellewaerde truly is.

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The park might be spread out, but it is picturesque.

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Wild West theming in a European park; as obligatory as a Flake bar shoved into an ice cream in the UK.

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I went straight to Boomerang for reasons I can’t entirely explain, but was happy to see that the queue was fairly short. In less than 15 minutes I was on the train.

Two things stuck out to me about this particular boomerang. First, fully enclosed stations on a boomerang are rare and this one felt relatively huge. Second, this boomerang was also pretty enjoyable. I don’t know what it is about the CdA boomerangs, but the three that I have done have been three of the best. The only non-CdA boomerang that I’ve experienced that is remotely as good is Flying Cobras at Carowinds and that is just because it has the vest restraints.

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After Boomerang, the next logical endeavor was Huracan. I really didn’t know much about this ride apart from the fact that it is a custom Zierer coaster. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself on the ride after waiting just 10 minutes.

The ride started with a dark ride portion which was unexpected but unique. What made it even more unique was the fact that there was no sound! That aspect was quite bizarre and I’m still not sure if it was designed that way or not.

After a lift hill and brief outdoor section, the coaster ducked back into the building and really picked up pace. Shortly after you come back into the building, you are faced with a spectrum light special effect that was borderline blinding but I loved it. I can’t fully explain it, but it was like I was tripping and fall face first into the album cover of Dark Side of the Moon. I loved it. Alas, it was short lived. The rest of the ride was fast, brief, but a lot of fun. It was a fantastic little coaster.

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I completely forgot that they had a functional (and the first!) Topple Tower! Cool to see, but I was on a coaster mission and don’t recall overly loving the version at Dollywood, so I wasn’t too upset to simply snap a photo and carry on.

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Next up was Keverbaan, the first of three Zierer Large Tivoli models of the trip. This one is closing at the end of the season and it was quite obvious as to why. It did not ride well, especially the valley that is out of shot and just to the left of the photo above. There was something bad wrong with it. It had an insane vibration and an atrocious noise.

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Having conquered the undisputed creds in the park, I made my way to Dawson Duel. It had a listed wait of 45 minutes which really pained me, but I was going to experience at least one side.

It is such a bizarre installation. The entire setup is huge. It takes up a significant amount of space and features a massive ramp system as a queue. But what makes it utterly bizarre is the fact that you have to climb 20 feet of stairs to get to the ramp system, which defeats a lot of the benefit of having a ramp queue, but whatever.

The queue proved to only be about 15 minutes and was fairly enjoyable as the view was nice and there was a solid breeze. As for the ride, it was fine. I was tempted to pass on the other side, but that side seemed to run a lot faster so I waited another 15 minutes and gave it a go. It was also fine. Admittedly, it felt faster, but was still pretty unremarkable.

After grabbing a second ride on Wakala, I made my way to the exit to call it a day, but not before grabbing a cup of the best ice cream that I’ve ever had (sans Flake bar of course). I then made my way to De Panne where I would stay for the next few nights.

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I spent the evening strolling along the incredibly windy seaside of De Panne while translating menus to see if there was anything that my stupidly sensitive body could tolerate. Eventually, I found a solid meal and called it an evening. Plopsaland beckoned…


So, creds as I ranked them at this point in the trip:
  1. Kondaa
  2. Fury
  3. Typhoon
  4. Pulsar
  5. Psyke Underground
  6. Cobra
  7. Wakala
  8. Huracan
  9. Boomerang
  10. Calamity Mine
  11. Naga Bay
  12. Tiki Waka
  13. Loup Garou
  14. Vampire
  15. Speedy Bob
  16. Revolution
  17. Dawson Duel (Left)
  18. Dawson Duel (Right)
  19. Dreamcatcher
  20. Oki Doki
  21. Fun Pilot
  22. Keverbaan
 
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Libby_Liz

Roller Poster
Really enjoying hearing about your trip, loving how things are 'not entirely regrettable' 😂

Fury backwards though is just plain gross 🤮
 

Indy

Mega Poster
Day 5 – Plopsaland De Panne

So… Plopsaland. I should preface all of this by saying that some of my goon friends consider me to be a bit of a Mack stan. And in all fairness, I’m a pretty big fan of most of Mack’s modern creations. Helix is my #1 and I absolutely loved Time Traveler. So naturally, I was cartoonishly in love the day that Ride to Happiness was announced
I was incredibly excited. I have a handful of close friends that are goons and one of them visited Plopsa earlier in the summer and was convinced, knowing my Mack love, that I was going to pass away on the ride.

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Needless to say, the hype was strong.

As mentioned in my day 4 recap, I opted to stay in De Panne and I chose a hotel that was just 2km away. Because it was so close, I opted to simply walk to and from the park.

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I was impressed just walking up and I had already seen Ride to Happiness testing, so I knew I didn’t have to worry about a devastating spite. My excitement was overwhelming.

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Holy smokes, this park is immediately impressive. The plaza immediately after the entrance is so beautiful and well themed. I expected the park to be nice, but I totally wasn’t prepared for this.

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There it is! What I hoped would be a masterpiece!

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My first ride was great, but not amazing. It was early in the day, so the ride was running cold. It felt sluggish and I also didn’t get a lot of spinning. My hope was that this would improve after a few hours of run time.

The tie with Tomorrowland is certainly interesting, but if you didn’t know what Tomorrowland was, you really wouldn’t pick up that it is an EDM festival. The only indication is some of the DJ merch in the gift shop.

With the ride inexplicably running one train (and running slow), I decided to carry on and swing back by later in the day.

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Next up was Heidi. The entire area feels very Europa-esque. I feel like a Mack bobsled should be just on the other side of these buildings. Then again, it’s very Swiss-themed but there’s a clear Pizza Hut sign on the right, so maybe it’s more Phantasialand-esque.

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Heidi has been open for 5 years, but it feels like it’s been open for 5 months. It rode so well. Superior theming aside, the key layout difference between Heidi and the ride it is essentially cloned from, White Lightning, is the fact that Heidi’s turnaround doesn’t bank a full 90 degrees and it’s better for it. The 90 degree banking on White Lightning feels too forced and sometimes awkward. The relaxed banking on Heidi feels much more natural.

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K3 Roller Skater. It’s what you expect.

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#LikeMeCoaster was the second of three Zierer Large Tivoli models that I would experience on the trip. I’m not familiar at all with the #LikeMe show, or any of the shows associated with Plopsa, but I was impressed by the theming of this ride. It also had a nice little setting and rode a lot better than its younger cousin, Keverbaan at Bellewaerde.

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Making my way around the park, I continued to be stunned by the level of theming. Parts of the park feel like they are Disney property…

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Not sure what princess lives in this castle, but wow!

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I was stunned to discover that this building housed the station and queue for Anubis. Walking up to it, I couldn’t see the track emerging from the building. I honestly thought maybe it was some sort of special mansion/building in the center of the park. Nope. It’s a coaster station. Absolutely unreal.

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For those who don’t know, everything after the top hat was cloned for Dare Devil Dive, so I was stunned to discover that Anubis is significantly more intense throughout. The cars rip through that layout. And despite having watched POVs of the ride before, I couldn’t believe how short the launch track was. I remember the car rolling out of the station and thinking to myself, “that launch doesn’t seem nearly long eno-oooohhh holy ****!” With individual cars, that launch doesn’t mess around. There is something bad wrong with the transition between the launch and the top hat, but the rest of the ride was a ton of fun. It wasn’t glass smooth, but it was very much enjoyable.

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Wait, what? As a very coaster-centric thoosie, I had no idea that SuperSplash existed. I’m still struggling to comprehend why it isn’t listed on RCDB as a coaster. What separates it from something like JTA San Antonio or Atlantica SuperSplash? Certainly there are obvious differences, but I don’t understand why those differences would be the difference maker.

Because it seemed like a coaster, and because it looked like the riders weren’t getting very wet, I decided that I’d go ahead and do it.

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[Insert tapestry of profanity]

I got wet… again. Completely self-inflicted too, but I didn’t entirely regret it.

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Having cleared all of the creds and the coaster-like cred(s), I made my way back to RTH and this is when the ****housery began. Still on one train ops, I got in line and was ready to endure the slow-moving queue. Then, after 30 minutes, the line began to move significantly and I quickly found myself in the station, where a ride op was clearly telling us all to bugger off.

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After communicating that I’m a single language peasant, an op politely explained to me that the ride was down due to high winds. With a forecast of strong winds the rest of the afternoon, I was pretty dejected after getting just one ride. I killed time by moping around the parts of the park I hadn’t seen yet and also grabbed lunch.

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The tractor ride really caught my eye because THERE ARE LIVE ANIMALS ROAMING AROUND THE RIDE AREA. I get that the ride is slow moving, but this is another never-in-America moment. And it’s not like this is appalling. I love it. It’s just sooo weird and unheard of.

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Right after I sat down to eat my lunch, I saw RTH cycling, so I crushed my frites and beelined back to the ride. I was fortunate enough to catch it right after it opened so I only waited about 15 minutes, but one train ops meant the line ballooned massively in very little time. At this moment, I decided that I wasn’t going to mess around, so I went to the front of the park and bought an express pass so that I could get as many rides on RTH as desired. Naturally, as soon as I got back to the ride with my newly purchased express pass, the ride was closed for… you got it… high winds.

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After about 45 minutes, the ride reopened, though still on one train ops. After getting a ride in through the standard queue, I immediately began to cash in my express pass and get several rides in before wind brought the ride back down (though it never did).

The express pass provides the ability to skip the line nine times on your choice of ten different attractions. Despite RTH being advertised as requiring two uses for a single ride, the ops only marked one usage. And while I clearly wanted to get several re-rides on it, I’m not the type to ride the same ride 9 times in a row. So, I decided to take advantage of some of the other attractions that were available to me.

Yes, I’ve been pretty upfront about my disdain for log flumes and getting wet at parks. However, having ridden Flashback at Walibi and Indiana River at Bobbejaanland, I felt like I might as well keep the streak alive. I had already gotten soaked on SuperSplash earlier in the day and Dino Splash genuinely looked like a lot of fun. Fine, let’s do this…

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Verdict? Huge fan. Not only was it by far the most fun of the three log flumes I had ridden on the trip, but it provided nothing more than a strong spritz. Totally acceptable. For a brief second, I thought about riding it again. A very brief second.

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After taking one more go each on Heidi and Anubis, I naturally grabbed a few more laps on RTH to close out the day. Oh, how I will miss this thing.

Side note: the ropes bridge that spans over SuperSplash provides some fantastic views!

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It’s a cred

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After snapping some photos on the ropes bridge and scooting myself down the slide that has a coefficient of friction that is entirely too high, I called it a day and made my walk back to De Panne.

Final thoughts:

The park is amazing. I was completely blown away by the theming and the overall quality of the attractions. I just continue to be astonished by the level of theming and cleanliness of European park and

Ride to Happiness feels like an odd fit for the park, but it is clearly attracting a crowd based on my experience. It is such an incredible ride. Is it my number 1? No. Going into the day, I honestly thought it might assume the position. One of the beauties of these Mack Extreme Spinners is that every ride is different. Each lap is so unpredictable which only adds to the fun. It’s what I loved about Time Traveler. However, it worked against RTH. A few of the laps I had would be contenders for the best rides I’ve ever had on a coaster, but other rides would not even break the top 10. Time Traveler had variability; each ride was different but each ride was almost equally fun for different reasons. RTH, less so. It was variable, but the craziness differed significantly.

I absolutely love the ride, but I can’t say that it’s my favorite. I have to still give it to Helix, and even then, I still give the nod to Zadra over RTH. Nevertheless, RTH is amazing. I would not complain in the least if extreme spinners became the next inverted coaster. It should be compulsory for almost every major park to have one.

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That would be it for Belgian parks on this trip. I went back to De Panne and grabbed a nice dinner. In the morning, I’d be heading back to Holland…
 
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TilenB

Strata Poster
Wait, what? As a very coaster-centric thoosie, I had no idea that SuperSplash existed. I’m still struggling to comprehend why it isn’t listed on RCDB as a coaster. What separates it from something like JTA San Antonio or Atlantica SuperSplash? Certainly there are obvious differences, but I don’t understand why those differences would be the difference maker.
It used to be listed up until some 10 years ago when Duane changed the definition so that rides that only have uphill sections as part of the main drop aren't considered coasters anymore. I assume that was because people kept asking him to add some of the log flumes (e.g. Dudley Do-Right) and this was his way of solving things.

But I agree with you, it definitely feels more like a coaster than some water coasters that are listed on rcdb (https://rcdb.com/10060.htm), but it's almost impossible to objectively decide why some rides are coasters and others aren't.
 

Indy

Mega Poster
Day 6 – Drievliet & Duinrell

Drievliet has always been a bit of a curiosity ever since they added Formule X. I have a fascination with tiny loopers and Formule X fits the bill. It’s also technically a portable coaster which I’ve always been intrigued by. I’ve also developed a love for Holland, so I felt compelled to hit the small parks along the coast. Fairly unique Maurer launched coaster and a Eurofighter (at Duinrell)? Let’s goooo.

The day started out in De Panne. For those who aren’t aware, De Panne and The Hague aren’t exactly close. A lot of driving ensued, and some chaos ensued once I got to The Hague, but eventually I made it to the Drievliet parking lot.

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I finally arrived at Drievliet and got parked in the car park across the highway. I never saw a single car parked in the car park that can be seen in this photo. You can also notice that the exit ramp in the bottom of the photo which my GPS tried to get me to take is closed. Hence, some chaos trying to find my way to the park. Alas, I made it.

After walking over the substantial pedestrian bridge, I made it to the gate. Given how busy the Belgian parks were all week, I was a bit surprised to see how dead Drievliet appeared to be. It was kind of sad honestly, but I was super excited about the prospect of clearing the park quickly.

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I entered the park and was greeted by some fun theming, but I immediately started looking for the creds…

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The first coaster I happened upon was Twistrix. I won’t beat around the bush, the photo is pretty bad, but it’s not an easy ride to photograph. I’d be remiss if I didn’t include some sort of photo of it though. This ride was one of the great surprises of the trip to be honest. It doesn’t look like much, but it provided absolutely insane rides. It was essentially a tilt-a-whirl on a coaster. There was some absolutely bonkers spinning that left me pretty dizzy. I loved it and it made me sad that it’s a one-of-a-kind attraction.

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Having checked off Twistrix, I made my way directly to Formule X, but not before I was greeted with a sign alerting me that this part of the park didn’t open until 30 minutes after the park itself opened.

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As you can infer from the name, the ride is Formula 1 themed. As soon as the clock struck 10:30, the F1 theme song started blaring through a speaker system. There is zero chance that they have permission to use it, but I was here for it.

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The ride was great fun. Short and a little weird, but it tracked fairly well. I didn’t feel the need to run around and get another ride, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.

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Nerd moment: I was fascinated to see that a few pieces of the track were actually fabricated to be part of the base frame. Unreal! Additionally, I thought it was interesting to see all of these cylinders strapped to the frame as ballasts.

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After taking a spin on the powered coaster, I made my way to the wild mouse where I was quickly made aware that I wasn’t allowed to ride by my lonesome. After waiting for several minutes in hopes that somebody else would come along wanting to ride (the park was seriously empty), I lucked out and was able to join a couple and get my +1. It wins the award for most themed Maurer wild mouse that I’ve experienced.

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I loved the theming on the tracked tractor ride. The couldn’t help but love the animals riding on top of each tractor. A pretty nice touch.

After a quick re-ride on Formule X and Twistrix, I left the park. Total time spent? 1 hour. I felt kind of bad asking to buy a token for the car park so quickly, but as a solo traveler, I was clearly not their target audience. On to Duinrell…

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Here we are! Duinrell!

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Holy algae bloom!

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The park was not at all what I expected. It felt like a city park meets a modern take on Knoebel’s. It was such a strange but neat property.

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The lack of a park map was not ideal, but with the help of Google Maps and eventually some signs once I was in the vicinity, I tracked down the rides. They are kind of buried back in a wooded area. The coasters are all also camouflaged to a degree. I don’t know how I never picked up on this before, but the track of the three coasters are painted incredibly similar shades of brown. And both the track and supports of the two Gerstlauers are more or less identical with a wood grain paint scheme on both structures.

The Zierer Tivoli, Kikkerachtbahn, was my first ride, which would my third of the trip. It’s funny how three clones can be so distinctly ranked. This was solidly the second best of the three, though the ops were solidly the worst.

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Well that’s not ideal. But notice that the structure also a wood grain paint scheme.

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After the Tivoli, I made my way to Dragon Fly, the large Gerstlauer family coaster. I never realized how much it was built over the Zierer. It’s kind of strange because the park doesn’t seem to lack space, but it made for some fun interaction. The ride itself was a lot of fun for a family coaster. It had some nice little whip and forces towards the end.

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Last but not least was Falcon, the Gerstlauer Eurofighter! While this ride is one of several clones, I had never experienced the model before and was really looking forward to it. Furthermore, it was unexpectedly going to be a milestone coaster: #600.

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The ride has a lot of trees growing around it. I actually felt the need to duck out of the way of a particular branch during the ride! And I realize that I’ve pointed it out multiple times now, but again, note the supports. I bring it up for a few reasons. First, it’s fascinating that a park goes through this much trouble to make so many rides match and blend in. Second, that is not cheap. They spent a decent bit of extra money to have these rides painted this way. I’m always amazed when parks spend the cash to have details like this added.

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It was hard not to love the theming of Falcon and the park’s dedication to their frog mascot!

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I honestly loved the ride. Yes, it’s a clone, but it was a model that was new to me. It rode fairly well and had a few odd transitions which added to the fun as I love a ride that catches me off guard. I took a few extra laps before beginning my trek to the park exit.

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Yet another ride with woodgrain supports, and yet another ride missing its gondola. I give the park credit for investing in the major upkeep of their attractions though.

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Holy smokes! They actually have one of those covered boats for their splashdown ride! This is perfect for me! Alas, I couldn’t be bothered.

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This just shows a bit more of the odd charm that the park has. They have a bunch of outdoor tables to eat at with an enormous playground area that includes a massive inflatable bouncy mushroom thing. Such a unique place, but it was time for me to be on my way, thus bringing an end to my coaster riding for this trip.

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After dropping my car off at Schipol, I took the train back to Leiden where I would spend the rest of the afternoon and evening before making my way to Amsterdam in the morning. Leiden was incredibly charming and only reinforced my love for the smaller Dutch cities like Delft and Maastricht.


Day 7 through 10 – Amsterdam & the Dutch Grand Prix

The rest of the trip would be spent exploring Amsterdam and attending the Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort. I’ll spare you too many details and photos because let’s be honest, it’s probably not what you’re here for.

In short, despite having visited Holland multiple times before, I had never properly visited Amsterdam so this was my first foray. It was an interesting city that was very picturesque with a lot of cool little spots to be found, but there are a number of large European cities that I think I prefer. Nevertheless, it was a great time as was the Dutch Grand Prix. I spent a lot of time during this leg of the trip reconnecting with some friends which was easy the highlight.

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Final cred rankings of the trip:
  1. Ride to Happiness
  2. Kondaa
  3. Fury
  4. Typhoon
  5. Anubis
  6. Pulsar
  7. Psyke Underground
  8. Cobra
  9. Heidi
  10. Wakala
  11. Huracan
  12. Falcon
  13. Formule X
  14. Boomerang
  15. Twistrix
  16. Calamity Mine
  17. Naga Bay
  18. Dragonfly
  19. Tiki Waka
  20. Loup Garou
  21. Vampire
  22. Speedy Bob
  23. Kopermijn
  24. Revolution
  25. #LikeMe Coaster
  26. Kikkerachtbahn
  27. Dawson Duel (Left)
  28. Dawson Duel (Right)
  29. Dreamcatcher
  30. SuperSplash
  31. Oki Doki
  32. K3 Roller Skater
  33. Fun Pilot
  34. Keverbaan
Thanks for reading!
 
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