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The Curse of Sandman, Final Day.


Donkey in a hat
Why the Curse of Sandman, you ask? Well because the guy's a jinx, that's why. Josh the Jinx, that's what we'll call him from now on. Every time I go on a trip with @Sandman , bad shizzle goes down, from minor inconveniences and narrow escapes to full on catastrophes that scupper the entire trip. The first one, coincidentally, was in Belgium on a CF Live to Walibi and Plopsa back in 2017. Speeding ticket. No biggie, €30 slap on a the wrist and some derision from fellow CFers. I can live with that.
The second, also coincidentally, was after Ghosterforce 2017 when, due to some rather unfortunate miscalculations we'd left ourselves with exactly 1 hour to get from the exit path of Speed of Sound at Walibi Holland on to a plane at Schipol airport, and also returning a hire car in that time.
We made it, but with literally seconds to spare - I'm talking sprinting through the airport corridor as the boarding staff were about to close the barrier, screaming at them to 'Wait for us!!!' from 100ft away - that kind of seconds to spare. That was tense, I tell ya, it still baffles me to this day that we made that flight.
Then came the big one. Josh was with me on the way to Skegness last summer for an unofficial CF get together when we... well I, hit a pothole and wrecked 2 wheels on my Jag. 😥


Had to drive it around with the orange wheels-of-shame for a week. The humilation was unbearable.


What with recovery charges and replacement wheels etc... that one cost me about 1600 quid, not to mention a whole Friday night stuck in a sh**ty layby in deepest, darkest Lincolnshire with no food or drink for miles in any direction.
And we didn't even get the bloody creds! 🤬

So what disaster would befall us this time? Well, it's a classic, but I'll tell you later. For now though let's start with....

Day 1: Walibi Belgium.
For as long as I can remember, Walibi Belgium has been thought of as Walibi Holland's less cool, acne ridden sibling. While WH has had a (formerly) world class Intamin for about 2 decades now, for the longest time the best WB could offer was a trio of dodgy Vekomas and a Schwarzkopf shuttle in a tube. But in the last 5 years I'd say things have switched around and as it currently stands, Walibi Belgium is the better, more rounded park, despite the Dutch one getting a top tier RMC in the meantime.
On arrival at the park it was immediately apparent that our day was going to be fairly stress free, with only about 4 rows of car parking spaces taken up, and also both of us had been to the park before so neither of us had to 'get the creds', as it were. We were free to mop up the new stuff and reride all the good stuff at leisure.
Sure enough, once inside the park, most stuff was walk-on all day. The Kondaa queue maxed out at about 10 mins. Nice! We started with a couple of laps on that, then. I mean, why wouldn't you?
Back row first, followed straight after by a back ish ride. Yep, good stuff. First drop is fab, reminiscent of EGF. First airtime hill is a highlight, strong ejector throughout. Not quite as insane as Hyperion's mega hill, but still pretty good. The next hill - the outerbanked one - is also very good indeed, another highlight. Unfortunately, entering the non-inverting cobra roll seems to wipe off a lot of speed so that particular element isn't one of my favourites, think I would have preferred a traditional cobra roll, but it picks up pace again on the way out just in time for some nice airtime hills and some high G helix action. The twisty double down is probably my least favourite part of the ride. While it does deliver some air, it does feel a little short lived and awkward, like it's twisty just for the sake of being twisty, rather than being, just... good. Couple more hills, high speed turn, series of bunny hops yadda yadda yadda and into the brakes. All in all pretty solid, but we both agreed that it had a bit of warming up to do and elected to come back later for some rerides.
Because I needed to preserve battery life on my phone for navigation purposes I didn't take many pictures today. Josh was the photographer for this trip, so hopefully he'll be posting some snaps fairly soon. I did however take a few snaps of Kondaa though, y'know, for the obligatory gloaty Facebook post, but I'm a sh*t photographer and the skies were grey and overcast so they're not very good.
Here you go:



Plus a couple later in the day when the weather had brightened up:

*And also, it would appear, turned the world sideways. 🤷‍♂️
Hopefully Hixee will sort that out. 😉

The next new-to-us cred was Tiki Waka (Didn't he direct Thor: Ragnarok? 🤔). I didn't pay much attention to this when it was in development because I thought it was just a kiddy cred replacement for Coccinelle, but no, it's a proper coaster. A Gerstlauer bobsled. Looks good, well presented, nice paint job etc. It goes over the scenic boat ride and it has a nice little high rope climbing course for the littl'uns intertwined with it so that's all good. So how was my ride? It was nice. Nothing too memorable or groundbreaking but it's nice that it doesn't have any of those mouse-like hairpin bends like some Gerstybobs. To be fair, this probably deserved another lap or two cos it's... have I used the word 'nice' yet? but we were far too busy enjoying rerides on Kondaa and Psyké Underground for most of the day to bother with just 'nice' things. We wanted awesome things. Which brings me onto....

..Psyké Underground. There are two ways of looking at Psyké Underground, you can either look at it as 'Meh, it's just a Schwarzkopf shuttle in a tube' or you can be like 'OMG it's a Schwarzkopf shuttle in a tube!! 😍'. I'm definitely one of the latter! My love of this ride stems back to the ThunderLooper in the 90's and any opportunity to relive that memory in some way is always welcome. So what if the theming is a bit cheap and funfair-ish (neon graffiti, strobe lights, klaxons, sirens and a good old fashioned countdown), when it's done right it can still be a very effective way of building anticipation for a ride. Especially one with a pitch black launch. Love it! We had about 4 or 5 goes. 😁

Yes, they do have another +1. Yes it's a kiddy cred. It's called Fun Pilot. It looks very similar to the Farmyard Flyer at Paulton's. Yes we rode it. That's all I have to say about that. Move along.

We had a rip on the minetrain. S'good. I like it. The hardware is fairly standard but the theming is nice and it looks pretty. It even goes behind a waterfall, which is always a good thing. Unfairly overlooked in the world of mine trains I feel.

The weather was still cold, grey and windy so we didn't ride the log flume or the rapids (but from memory I would describe them as 'ok'), however it could have been blowing a hurricane and I still wouldn't have missed out on a go on Pulsar. Love this thing - I think it's brilliant, such good fun and more thrilling than you might imagine. I wouldn't exactly call them 'launches', more like hefty shoves, but you can really feel the amount of power needed to accelerate such a big, heavy boat. Bit of airtime on the hump, some delicious vertical hang time on the towers at each end and a visually spectacular finale to round things off. In terms of pacing, it's an almost perfect ride, the way it builds, and builds, and builds and then delivers a big pay-off at the end that may or may not get you absolutely drenched. It's brill, would love to see a few more of these popping up.
Me and Josh got away with a light sprinkling this time and, given the blustery winds and the state of many other riders we spotted that day, we got off very lightly so we didn't push our luck and stuck to just the one lap.

That's it for the coasters. We purposely didn't bother with the trio of dodgy Vekomas - the Boomerang, the SLC and the woodie. Why spoil a perfectly enjoyable day with crap? It's a shame actually that all three of these coasters are at the front of the park and are the the first things you see when you arrive. Doesn't really set the right mood, know what I mean?
To be fair, the woodie - Loup Garou - is actually ok, ish, and we would have had a ride but for some reason it seemed to attract a 30 minute queue for most of the day. Nah man, we could get 2 or 3 goes on Kondaa in that time so why would you even bother?
Also to be fair, their SLC is not the worst one out there. I mean, it's not great, obvs, but it's less horrendous than its Dutch counterpart. But again, why bother? Got the creds, no need to endure them again, just get back on the good stuff innit.
The Boomerang though, yeah that's a bad'un. Avoid anyway, +1 or not.

They've got dark rides here too. There's a Vekoma madhouse for starters, we didnt ride it this time but it's... ok I guess? I can't really remember it to be honest but, y'know, at least they've got one. The real star of the dark ride line-up though is the Challenge of Tutankhamun shooter ride. It's actually bloody good you know. It's a fairly large scale thing, with reasonably impressive set pieces and decent animatronics. Was particularly impressed with swarm of giant, demonic hornet things. Nifty effect, man!
There's also Popcorn's Revenge. We almost forgot about this one to be honest, it wasn't until we spotted it on one of the queue time display boards that we even remembered it existed. Neither of us knew what it was exactly, only that it was new since our last visit and was supposedly quite good fun. Took some finding mind you, could easily overlook it but FYI, it's over near the Boomerang.
What is it then, Howie? It's a trackless, screen based, shooty dark ride and it's really rather good. As trackless dark rides go, it's perhaps not quite as lavish as, say, Symbolica but it certainly ain't bad, Walibi haven't skimped on this, and the shooting aspect of it certainly makes it more interactive than Symbolica. And it smells of popcorn. Lovely!

The rest of the day was made up of Kondaa & Psyké rerides, mixed with casually strolling round absorbing the atmosphere. One thing I did notice on this visit was just how many flat rides WB actually has - there's quite a few of them that I hadn't spotted previously. Nothing spectacular of course, no Talocan's, but there's dodgems, chair swings, carousels, a breakdance, a top spin, a 4D cinema, various spinny things and, of course, a big-ass Intamin drop tower. All in all this park really does have a solid line up. Sure, there's one or two pieces of garbage but as long as you elect not to ride them, you'll have a fab time. 😁

Subsequent rides on Psyké were as mental as always, and you'll be pleased to hear that subsequent rides on Kondaa (6 in total) had picked up the pace noticeably since our morning rides and by the afternoon it's safe to say that Kondaa was, i believe the term is 'hauling ass'. Not Top 10 material, but fairly comfortably in the Top 10% so still pretty impressive. Good enough to warrant buying a mug and a pen, anyway.


A great day overall then, low crowds, big ride count and some very decent coasters. This park seems to be going places. Think about it, in the space of less than 5 years between our two visits they've added a whole new themed area with supplementary attractions, an expensive trackless dark ride and 3 brand new creds, one of which is a continent class, Intamin mega. That's an impressive rate of expansion by any standards. Good on 'em, I say.

In the next part then, Ride to Happiness and... not much else.
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Donkey in a hat
Day 2, Plopsaland de Panne

It's customary with these things to put your ride stats for the day at the end of the post. But just to give you an instant idea of what kind of day we had here, I'll give you the stats now.

Heidi the Ride. × 1
Anubis. × 2
Ride to Happiness. × 17

That is all.

No, really, that's all we did. Well to be fair, Sandman didn't even manage that, I think he wussed out after about his 12th go. Pussy. But me? Warrior, champion of goons that I am - I pushed on. It's been suggested recently that I'm, and I quote, "Too old for this sh*t". Not mentioning any names, but you know who you are @chainedbanana .
Well, 17 laps on an extreme, spinning multi-launcher in a day says, and rather emphatically I might add, "Bollocks am I!" 😝

You might think then, judging by that ride count, that Plopsaland is not very good, and that RTH is the only thing here worth riding. Not true. It's actually a charming little park with a decent ride line up, well worth visiting, it's just that the difference between Ride to Happiness and literally everything else here, in terms of quality, thrill level and capacity, is so gargantuan that all the other rides just become kind of an afterthought. Coupled with the fact that both Josh and I had been here before and therefore didn't need any of the creds, that left us pretty much all day to lap the hell out of this thing. Also in our favour that day was extremely low crowd levels. Much like Walibi the day before, the car park had about 4 rows of cars in it, with only a trickle more coming in.
But wait, what's this I see in the first row?


I don't do League of Goons, but if I did, that would surely be worth a good 100 points? Ride manufacturer service vehicles? How goony is that? Although you'd think they'd put some decent alloys on it, or at least a set of trims, looks proper rubbish with those steelies. But it's still way cooler than a character selfie with Woody and Buzz.
I'm assuming they were here because of what happened a few weeks ago with that stalled train, further evidenced by what I could see lurking behind the maintenance building...


What do we reckon? Is that a repaired carriage, or a brand new replacement? There was another one round the corner too. Either way, that's also gotta be worth a few League of Goon points, right? A ride vehicle on a pallet? That's about as goony as it gets. Vloggers go crazy for this stuff.

Obviously, that meant Ride to Happiness was only running 1 train today but that really didn't matter because the loading station looked like this for most of the day:


Not so much "How long is the wait?" more a case of "Where shall we sit this time?"
Don't you just love it when you get a dead park like this?
Makes me wonder if Ride to Happiness is actually in the right park? Brand new, world class coaster on 1 train operations and it's still not attracting a wait of more than 10 mins? Even on the quietest of days, you'd expect a ride of this calibre to have some sort of queue. Not that I'm complaining like, just making an observation.

Ahh, here she is, my future wife:


She may be a gold plated, clockwork robot from the future, but she's still hot. Those eyes, those lips and oh my God, that silky, honeyed voice. Would defo bang.
Have I told you yet how much I like this coaster? I stand by what I said in the Last Cred Review thread, if Ride to Happiness isn't your new favourite coaster, I'm almost certain it'll crack your Top 3, or your Top 5, or your Top 1%, or however it is you choose to quantify these things - this is an elite, world class ride by any standards.
Things get funky right from the off. Even on the slow jojo roll out of the station there's no guarantee which way the car will spin, or how quickly. And then of course, how you end up on the launch track - forwards, backwards, sideways or still spinning in either direction - that in turn affects how the launch acts on your ride carriage. You might get 2 complete rotations before you've reached the end of the launch, you might change direction half way down, you might get pinned sideways, or backwards. Already, the number of different permutations of the ride experience is mind boggling and we haven't even hit the first element yet. Ah yes, the first element - the 90°, outerbanked top hat thingy. It's mental! At the front of the train you'll get powerful ejector air as you crest the peak. At the back you'll get yeeted out of your seat as you plummet down the other side. Either way, this thing has serious airtime. Not something you typically associate with spinning coasters, but RTH does indeed have 5 or 6 good moments of real, actual, strong airtime. The hump on the second launch, the camelback after the snake dive and especially the double-up into the brake run - all solid moments of ejector.
On one of my early laps I lost a pocket full of loose change on the top hat. Forcibly flung upwards it was, where it just seemed to hang there, suspended in mid air, twirling gracefully like some golden rings off of Sonic the Hedgehog. For a brief, tantalising moment it seemed as though you could almost reach out and gather them up again but then the sudden plunge down the steep first drop saw them disappear forever.
Sure, it cost me a couple of euros in shrapnel but it was almost worth it for the surreal, WTF moment. The guy in the next carriage saw them too and for a split second we both looked at each other and shared a bemused look of "Who's is that??" but deep down I already knew it was mine. The thing is though, those coins were in my back pocket - I was literally sitting on them. It wouldn't even have been possible for them to come shooting upwards unless my arse was off the seat and there was some serious negative G's going on, right?
By the way - that's another, unexpected benefit of the train design - as you're spinning your way through the layout it becomes almost impossible to avoid brief moments of eye contact with total strangers in the car in front or behind you. It becomes a shared experience between you and your fellow passengers. A small detail to be sure, but it's just one of many ways that RTH adds an extra layer, extra texture, to the overall ride experience.

Before I bore you all to death with endless gushing praise for Ride to Happiness, I'd just like to throw out one more paragraph about the on-board soundtrack. It's the best I've ever heard. On-board audio is criminally underused in the world of coasters anyway and it's great to see it finally being embraced on a large scale attraction. Such an easy and effective way to enhance a ride, far better than, say, adding stupid VR to a coaster. This is one gimmick I'd be happy to see catching on a bit more. It just adds so much to the experience.
I know you've all probably watched numerous POV's, but just to show you what I mean I'm gonna share this one from Amusement Insider, namely because the audio is particularly clear here and isn't drowned out by whooping riders, wind noise or annoying commentaries:

Sound up.

See? It's just soooo good. IMAScore just got owned.

Much like the day before, skies were grey and overcast so photos are a bit crap, but here's a few:



Funny how the first half of the ride, this half^, is in a completely different area of the park to the station buildings and the second half. Clever use of space to be fair, almost as if the ride has 2 entirely separate footprints, joined together by 2 parallel sections of launch track. I initially had mild concerns that a coaster of this size would overpower and dwarf everything else here, but no, it fits right in. If you didn't know any better, at a distance you'd be forgiven for thinking they were 2 separate creds.



As much as it grieves me, I should really talk about something other than Ride to Happiness. So what else did we do? Well, as I said at the beginning, not much. Our very first ride of the day was a single lap on Heidi while RTH was 'warming up'. It was alright. Decent little GCI for sure. It's no Troy or Wodan, but it does feel longer, better and has more elements than the slightly longer Wicker Dude, which is surprising really. Sadly it was one of the first trains out on a cold grey day so it wasn't exactly flying. Probably deserved another lap later in the day but... we just never got round to it.

Anubis happened around lunchtime on of our occasional breaks from RTH.


You know that thing where goons take pictures of other goons taking pictures? Well that started right here back in 2017. It's just such a good photo spot that on any given day you'll invariably see goons lined up here waiting for that all important 'train-in-shot' moment.


It was walk on so we had a rip on the front row. We enjoyed it so we immediately had another rip on the back row. We did not enjoy the back row as much. Rougher, shonkier and a bit nasty. The launch is still epic though. Short and sweet but oh so powerful. Top hat is also good. But 2 rides was enough for us on this visit.

At one point we decided to have a rip on the Starflyer...

... but just as we were about to take our seats they announced that it was busted. Spite!
We didn't bother coming back later.

There were some velociraptors roaming around the park today, so that was fun.


Tempted to recycle the Bolliger & Mallard joke here...
...but if I'm to retain the Funniest Member title next year I need to start coming up with some new material. Uhm... I dunno, Quack Rides Gmbh, anyone?

We also managed to stumble into the little farmyard area at some point, that's when I remembered.... they have goats here! Love goats, me. 😁


Plus some other cute critters too, like hairy, oversized chickens:

And jumbo rabbits:

They're just like guinea pigs with big ears, aren't they? 🤣
(If you want to know why that's funny, have a peak at @Mysterious Sue 's Live video from 2017. Watch til the end 😉:

Whatever happened to Alex by the way? Is he still around? 🤔 )

Then it hit me... @witchfinder 's pig!
Oh my god, we simply had to go and revisit witchfinder's pig! 🤣


Try as I might, I couldn't find the infamous picture of witchfinder and the pig... but it's out there somewhere, if you care to dig. Dig for the pig! 😉
I did find this one though, happy memories of one of my first overseas CF Lives, and it still features the pig soooo....

After that, we went back to Ride to Happiness.
Like I said earlier, this is a very pleasant park and there is some more stuff to do here. Going purely off memory from 5 years ago, cred wise there's a dragon themed powered coaster (ok), a large Zierer (ok) and a Vekoma roller skater, also known as the @Chris Brown cred. Ask him why. 😁 It used to be themed to a giant washing machine, bizarrely, but now it's themed to giant speaker and guess what? It's ok.

Plus there's a Disk-o (with hump), swinging ship, various flats and a semi-decent dark boat ride called the Forest of Plop!
Nothing too spectacular, but nothing too terrible either. If it's your first visit here and you 'need' all the creds, then mopping them up won't exactly be a chore. But if you have been here before then yeah... it's likely most of the other rides here will, and should, fall by the wayside in favour of more rides on The Happy.

A great day, then. Enjoyed it lots.

In the next part, Walibi Holland, and the Curse of Sandman strikes...
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Donkey in a hat
Third and final day, then. Not much to tell really, Sandman covered the main points in his trip report here...
...plus he's got much better pictures than me. So before we head back into the Netherlands for a day at Walibi Holland, do you mind if I take this opportunity to have a bit of a whinge about Belgium? Ok thanks:
I really don't like the place very much. Of all the European countries I've been to, Belgium is easily the dullest, most boring of the lot. It's just so... bleurgh! And this isn't just based off first impressions from a single visit, I've been to Belgium many times and every single time it's annoyed me. Well, not even annoyed me, just... didn't do anything to me. It's too dull to even annoy me, just... nothing.
It was particularly noticeable on this trip because we flew into the Netherlands, Eindhoven to be exact, and then drove into Belgium and back again, and there's definitely a noticeable difference the moment you cross the border, a tangible change in ... mood.
Why did we fly to Eindhoven? Well, 3 reasons: first of all you can get flights from Manchester for about 9 quid. That's a pretty good reason right there.
Secondly, it's a great location that puts you right in the heart of the Benelux cluster of amusement parks. Within an hours drive from the airport you have Efteling, Toverland, Bobbejaanland and Walibi Belgium. Expand that to 90 minutes and you can include Phantasialand, Plopsaland, Movie Park Germany, Walibi Holland and several more of the smaller parks too.
And thirdly, it's just a really nice city - lively but not rowdy, clean and tidy, very pretty, very friendly, just... lovely. Even the key fob on the rental car had a nice, goon-friendly message printed on it. Bet they don't do that in Belgium:

*In movies, this is what they call 'showing the banana peel'. Y'know, like when that old abandoned warehouse downtown features on a news bulletin in the background and you're like 'Hmm, I wonder where the climax will be set?'
Or that shot of the cook in The Hunt For Red October. 🙄

Where was I? Oh yes, Belgium. First of all Belgium, pick a language ffs, and stick with it. Is it French, is it German, is it Dutch, what? I mean, you try and do your bit as a tourist, you try and speak a bit of the lingo and not be a typical, shouty Englishman abroad, but how can you do that when the Belgians themselves can't seem to decide what language they want to speak?
"Hoi hoi", you'll say cheerfully to someone. "Bonjour monsieur" comes the reply. Ok then, French it is, that's fine. "Merci beaucoup" you'll say and they fire back at you with "Alstuplieft." Wtf?
And then just when you think you're getting the hang of it, some knobhead throws a "Guten tag" at you. Make your bloody mind up!
Compare that to the Dutch for example, they have their own language - Dutch - and they're very proud of it, but they'll happily converse with you in any language that makes communication easier, and not make any fuss about it. I mean, why wouldn't you? It just makes sense. But in Belgium? Not a chance. I'm surprised no one threw us a "Hola señor" , just to deliberately catch us off guard. Cos they're like that, the Belgians.

And why, why can't you find a McDonalds in Belgium? Seriously, they're nowhere to be seen. We must have covered about 200 miles of Belgian motorways and we didn't see a single one. Nor a KFC, or a Subway. I think we saw one Burger King, that was it. What have the Belgians got against decent, recognisable fast food outlets? I did some Googling, y'know, for research purposes like: here in the UK, there are approximately 1300 branches of Maccy D's. Wanna know how many there are in Belgium? 85!! In the whole of Belgium!! No wonder they're so miserable all the time, imagine not being able to get a Big Mac within 50 miles.
Now I'm not suggesting for one minute that you should judge a country based on how many McDonalds it has, but I think it is an interesting representation of a country's mindset, of it's outlook on life... of it's all round dullness.
Neither am I saying that McDonald's is exciting, quality, haute cuisine, but it is good, reliable goon food, especially when you're on the road with a schedule to keep. At the very least it's one of the few places on the continent where you're almost guaranteed to find a decent cuppa tea.
But it's more than just the language barrier(s) and the inability to get a Big Tasty with Bacon, it's... well, it's everything. Architecture in Belgium, despite being broadly similar to it's neighbour, is somehow dull, boring and functional. Hotel rooms are small and gloomy. The colour palette is a mixture of greys and browns, the landscape is flat and lifeless, road junctions are confusing and badly laid out. Even the font used on road signage is small, ugly and hard to read.
Nah man, Walibi and Plopsa aside - 2 shining beacons of joy in an ocean of tedium - Belgium, in my humble opinion, is a dump. I don't know what they've done to deserve not one, but two world class coasters in the same year, someone in the Belgian authorities must have sold their soul to Satan to make that happen I reckon.
You know earlier when I said Ride To Happiness might be in the wrong park? Thinking about it, I reckon it might even be in the wrong country. It belongs in the Netherlands.
It belongs at Efteling.
Aw man, imagine that, if RTH was at Efteling? That would be a match made in Heaven, man. Everything about it - theme, decor, purpose, atmosphere, even the name, The Ride To Happiness - it just screams Holland to me, and seems more in keeping with Dutch philosophy and Dutch attitudes towards life. Be happy. Be friendly.
Make thingsh nishe.

Sure enough, as soon as we crossed the border back into the Netherlands, everything became 'nishe' again. It was almost instant. Road bridges were suddenly illuminated in pretty colours, streets were lined with blossoming trees, roundabouts had flowerbeds in the middle and the first motorway services we came to was a sparkling, spacious, neon and chrome palace, not some concrete bunker with a pissy toilet and a crappy Spar shop.
And guess what? It had a McDonalds. 😁
"Ahh, this is better".

Things got even better, at least temporarily, when we pulled up at Walibi Holland - the place was dead! If anything, it seemed even deader than WB and Plopsa. Surprising, given that it was a Saturday and especially since we'd heard rumours that the previous weekend had actually sold out, but a very welcome surprise to be sure.
I love this park, me. I'm not saying it's the best in Europe, not by a long shot, but it's my most visited European park, this being my fourth time here (well... fifth if you include the Griswold incident of 2003 🙄) and I do have a bit of a soft spot for the place. Some of the hardware might be a bit ropey, theming is sporadic at best and the clientele can be a bit chavvy, but overall it's a fun theme park that knows its identity and plays to its strengths. I can't imagine any other park coming up with something as twisted as The Clinic, for example (knowing nod to @JoshC. 😉).
And who could forget the wonderful knuffelbeer video?

Anyways, to business. Sandman, because he's basic, hadn't ridden an RMC before so naturally that was our first port of call. I suggested maybe waiting a while to let it warm up a bit first, keen for Josh to get the best first impressions, but he was having none of it. "What if it breaks and doesn't open again all day?" he said. Fair enough.
First ride, back row. The station looked like this...

...so whenever there was nobody waiting in the bays they were letting people who'd just gotten off fill up any empty seats. Lovely! We'll have 3 laps then!
Bloody good coaster, this. Even on those cold, early morning rides it packs some serious punch. It just crams so much into the layout, never a wasted moment, bam bam bam, element after element. Such variety too. Love it!

You could actually feel it getting faster over the course of those first few laps. When we came back at lunchtime for a few more it was, of course, absolutely flying! I've ridden 9 RMC's overall and this is my 2nd favourite behind Vengeance. Yes, that means I rate it higher than Wildfire, Outlaw Run, Goliath, even the mighty Zadra. See, Untamed has what I call 'comedy airtime'. It's a wee bit... stupid. Unlike the relentless brute force of Zadra, Untamed spends a lot more time just cocking about and yeeting you from the seat with bonkers bunny hops. I like that. It makes me laugh. The sequence of elements on the home stretch - 4 ejector hills, ground skimming barrel roll, surprise drop - is pure comedy gold!
Top 10 coaster for me. I've previously ranked this at around 6th or 7th overall and based on today's rides, yep, I'm happy with that. It can stay there.


*pictures from a previous, and clearly much sunnier trip.

We had a good session on Goliath too. Front, back, middle and a few more in between. Back in the day this was top 5 ride for me, even now I'd would have said it's a top 20, but... hmm, dunno. Maybe it wasn't running quite as well as it was in 2019? Or maybe it's because I've since ridden Expedition GeForce and, of course, Kondaa 2 days previously, that Goliath's shortcomings have suddenly become more noticeable. I suspect it's the latter. The big, flat helices over the water could be more exciting, for example. Still a great ride, still in the Top 10% I'd say (so that's top 42, roughly) but perhaps not quite as good as nostalgia had led me to believe.

Not too fussed on Lost Gravity, if I'm being honest. It's ok I guess - it has some forces, it has some airtime etc... but it doesn't 'flow' very well. It's a bit stop-starty. Here is a short sequence of elements, pause, here is another short sequence of elements, pause, here is the final sequence of elements, finish. I hate to say it, but it reminds me of a Gerst' Eurofighter. Slightly better than a Eurofighter, but a similar overall experience. Theming is quite extensive and I guess you could say it's fairly original too, all that upside stuff, but let's be honest, it looks pretty grotty. Shipping containers and recycled old escalators? How very Thorpe.
Still, we gave it a lap out of courtesy, but once was enough for us today.

Josh needed the Xpress: Platform 13 cred so we did that. S'alright. Queue line is probably better than the cred tbh - there's a great jump scare that really got me but, apart from launch and the first double inversion, which are decent, the coaster itself is just a big, meandering, spaghetti bowl of... nothing. One and done.

Completing the trio of dodgy Vekomas we have, of course, a Boomerang and an SLC. In Belgium, the SLC is actually almost tolerable but the Boomerang is awful. Here in Holland it's the other way round - the Boomerang is one of the better ones out there but the SLC is absolutely vile. It might be the first, but it's also the worst. Bin it.
With the Boomerang, 'Speed of Sound', they've clearly tried to replicate the effects of Psyké Underground here by putting some the ride in a tube and adding some jazzy lights n stuff, but it's only partially successful. Better than most, but still just a Boomerang. Meh.

So, back to Untamed and Goliath then for more rerides. The day was going well. Perhaps a little too well.
In need of a bit of charge in my phone, we decided to head back to the car for a small break, but...

<remember the banana peel? Here comes the slip>

... where's the car key?
Hang on, where's the bloody car key??
I didn't have it. No idea how, I just didn't have it. I'd locked the car on arrival and put it in a zipped pocket where, in theory, it should still be at the end of the day but it just.... wasn't. The Curse of Sandman strikes! 🤦‍♂️
There's no point in boring you all with efforts to try and find it - lost property, all the ride ops we'd encountered that day, by the car - none of it worked. It was gone.
How the hell did I manage that? Of all the schoolboy errors to make on a theme park road trip, losing the bloody car key has got to be one of the most basic. Shame! Total and utter shame.

Ok then, sit rep:
Time - 3pm.
Flight home - 8pm.
Battery power - 23% and dropping fast.
Charging leads and battery pack - locked in car.
Passports, travel docs and bags - locked in car.
Emergency contact details for rental car company - locked in car.
To be fair, staff at Walibi were extremely sympathetic, but realistically what could they do?
"If you wait until an hour after closhing, then the ride teamsh will have returned any losht itemsh and it might be there."
An hour after closing huh? That's 7pm. Even if the key turns up, that gives us exactly one hour to get to the airport! Nahhhh man, not doing that again, no way!
With the prospect of lots of Googling and lots of phone calls potentially draining what little battery life I had left, and Josh's potato-phone being even more dilapidated than mine, things could end up getting very desperate very quickly. There was only one thing to do:
Phone Mrs Howie.
"Honey, I've dropped a bollock. I need help... "
Tell you what, guys, no matter what you do, marry well, that's all I'm saying.

About 20 minutes later, Mrs Howie rings me back: "Dave, you complete bellend, pay attention: in about 45 mins a nice Dutchman called Marco will arrive there. You will give him lots of euros in cash. In return he will unlock the car so you can get your stuff out and then take you and Josh and the car back to the airport in time for your flight. Oh, and you're a bell end."

I have never loved her more. ❤

Yes, Marco turned up.

And so it came to pass that, for the second time in as many trips together, me and Josh the Jinx find ourselves in the back of a recovery vehicle of shame with the car being shamefully towed behind us. What are the odds? Literally, what are the odds??

Wanna know the best bit? I had an email off of Enterprise yesterday, they wanna charge me €900 for losing the key!
900 Euros!!
Those bastard Dutch, they can f*** right off!
Ok, so it's still not quite as expensive as the Jag incident, and at least we got the creds this time but even so, €900 for a key?? They're taking the piss. It'd be cheaper to buy one myself and deliver it to the Netherlands by hand. Could even pop back to Walibi and finish off our day there.
Whaddya reckon @Sandman , up for round 2?

I mean, what the hell else could go wrong?

Matt N

CF Legend
Wow @Howie; that sounds like an ordeal and a half!

Glad you were able to get it sorted eventually, but that sounds like one hell of a stressful end to what sounded like a pretty great trip up to that point…


Giga Poster
And to think we were laughing all the way to Walibi...

“Ha... we have PLENTY of time to get back to the airport this time, nothing can stop us now!”

Oh, how foolish we were...

Still, cheers for an otherwise great trip. Maybe you’ll brave another with me in the distant future 😂


Staff member
Social Media Team
Catch up with this. Epic. Good, and bad. All round - epic.
It's ok, I've spoke my credit card company and they've effectively blocked Enterprise from taking any funds until I say so, which will be when they've got back to me with a more realistic figure for a lost key. It'll be 'reet. 🤞🏻
What was the outcome of this? Anything yet? Curious how it'll go! :D


Donkey in a hat
What was the outcome of this? Anything yet? Curious how it'll go!

Still in limbo. I emailed them last week for an update but they're still waiting for a.. it says here... a 'damage assessment officer' to finalise the cost.
Seeing as they haven't taken the €900 yet (and theoretically can't until I tell Virgin to 'unblock' them), then this damage assessment officer can take as long as he likes!