For the best part of at least three years, I have been looking at spiralling out of the UK circle of Theme Parks. Though doing Tivoli World many times [part of annual family holidays], it wasn't really to count as at the end of the day it was little more than a glorified fair ground [though the shows & fountains were half decent].
It was not until this year where I managed my first large non UK park in the form of DLP which was achieved in April this year, however this was to only mark the beginning of a brand new era. It is here where MC16 is set to begin [MC16 meaning Matt Creek, Mega Creds, or Mighty Coasters 2016].
The next steps of which park to do after DLP was an interesting one, with Europa Park & Liseberg initially projected as the next parks to do. However in the end Efteling was decided as the next park to do, with the great incentive to experience the impressive looking Baron 1898 coaster amongst those lucky enough to do this park amongst others on a long trip this summer. I will not name any names see [C] here. It was also Benin's loverly TR from a few years ago that gave me the incentive to visit here as until then I didn't really know of this place.
Part 1 of this report will focus on the rides.
Part 2 will mostly look at the shows and anything else worth noting about the park
Moving On to the report then! After a loverly cheeky night ride on the eye, we stayed over night at the Stansted Premier Inn with a train journey, sleep and bus shuttle that left very little to be desired. However after munching down a slightly overpriced Weatherspoons Eggs Benedict & taking the train to our gate [not a cred surely] we were on our plane and made it to Eindhoven in a remarkably quick 35 minutes. Ryanair aren't as bad as they are geared up to be.
A short'ish sight seeing tour and a generally easy commute [despite train problems] followed before we reached our port of call.
EFTELING! Don't think I had been so excited seeing this since spotting those spotlights of Tower Of Terror at Disney.
Since we weren't visiting the park until the next day, we walked to our hotel, checked in before finding a Steak House for tea [which was quite good actually] before hitting the sack for the next day ahead. One thing to note is, how the area is quite rural and very much in the middle of nowhere where aside from the roaring motorway, a couple of restaurants and a petrol garage [though not quite to the level of Towers perhaps].
Walking from our hotel to the guests of the park [NH Waalwijk [which is a very good hotel and decent for the price]], we arrived at Efteling. One of the first things to spot upon entering the mighty impressive curved building which stands out from quite a distance away. Accompanied by some appropriate yet subtle music brought out excitement levels on a similar level yet different feel to that of walking in to a Disney park.
Impressive is an understatement. Much of the rest of the park architecture upkeeps this fantastic standard.
Upon entering we swapped in our printed e-tickets for actual tickets [which didn't work], however we were given a signed note from turnstile staff to enter for ERT, which we technically missed due to a mixture of poor/confused organisation [from us] and one of the entrances being closed due to the new Pinocchio element in the Fairy Tale Forest.
No Strings holding down this one then.
First stop is what could be called the chase. Baron 1898.
Amazing architecture again, very much near Disney standards here and superier to much of what the Uk currently offers.
That animatronic though
Saw Alive, eat your heart out!
So Photo friendly.
Efteling have created half a masterpiece here; why half I hear you ask?
Well, two things struck out for me on Baron; the experience and the ride. Baron as an exprience is absolutely fantastic, from the moment you approach the surrounding area and landscape, you can tell lots of effort and dedication went in to not just building up the impressive steampunk style building/life structure but the small details such as the lights at the top, the turning wheels and even the smaller details all over the building.
The preshows too are also of very high quality. The first in where the Baron introduces us to his mine, where we briefly meet the white women is superb and the descrete touch of a more tinny recording of the soundtrack in order to give the attraction a nostalgic feel only helps it better and better. The second pre-show keeps up this with a high quality of the Baron himself where after setting in your rows, doors open shortly taking you directly to the station [with a smaller bag drop for smaller things] in a fashion of entering a ride station never ever seen before.
The third and final pre-show occurs on the ride itself, which is where the white women sing and curse riders before the main cut of the ride begins.
The layout though, left seeking for more. The drop at the top is impressive in the that the rest of the park is surrounding you before you enter the mine, but then it's it's goes through a few inversions, airtime hill, helix and then the ride is pretty much over. For me, it was sort of like the ride finished as I had just got in to it really. Though it surpassed Blivvy [though the drop was better], I would rate Inferno better at least on the layout.
The ride however as I rode later in the trip though did grow on me quite a lot more though as I re-did the ride in different rows [once at night] and have since rated it better, to the degree it has just made it in to my Top 10 [however that's not hard so far].
Baron is a stunning ride at the park and everything about it has been polished to a remarkable standard that has rarely been seen outside of the giants of Disney & Universal and once again proves that the difference between small details can make the difference between a ride that is average to something which is great. The park should be proud of their baby right now [if only we had seen this details on the Smiler station].
Efteling of course has many other coasters, most of which comprise the park's coaster corner where all the coasters except Bob can be found.
One of those is the Flying Dutchman [ or De Vilegende Hollander if you prefer], which is a water coaster at the park [and my first such cred too].
Opening in 2007 by Intamin, this ride was supposed to open a year before hand, but numerous problems occurred with the ride's original manufacturer Kumbak [who make Intamin look like B&M in many ways] had problems and Intamin stepped in.
Fantastic indoor queue line theming. Wouldn't see that at Merlin, you'd be waiting outside in a hideous cattle pen before hand.
Or station for that matter.
Flying Dutchman was a ride I really enjoyed and passed my expectations. The theming and effects featured in the ride again are superb and of high quality. The dark ride parts actually reminded me of Valhalla a little acutally. After going through the fantastic theming parts, the ride cascades in to a roller coaster section with twists and turns with drops before splashing in to the lake below.
One of my favourites at the park for certain [and has made it in to my top 10 water rides]. Incidentally got stuck on this ride when it broke down just as our boat reached the station. Not sure what happened but a bright halogen light was on when we reached the brake run. Fixing took a while at this time, so candy crush was the only way to pass the time.
Two down and town to go. There are two more coasters to knucle in this area of the park, so which we we do next.
Hint- It's not the one with all the loops
Joris of course, the park's duel racing woodie. Built in 2010 by GCI, this beast replaced the ageing Pegasus coaster [which I hear was boring & rough]. Though this wouldn't be my first racing woodie, it would be my first GCI [aside from the first outside the UK too].
First ride over, this ride didn't impress me, IT BLEW ME AWAY!
This coaster is superb, the way everything has been knotted is so creative from it's swampy queueline building up the ride to the touches so small yet effective. There is far more fanfare on this ride when a train wins [than on the likes of National] as not only does a sign notify which train won, but the winners come back to flags and cheers whilst the losing trains arrives to booes and jeers, and that's before I start talking about the nicely themed station, impressive soundtrack or that this is a coaster smooth as silk yet is so forceful when it rides though the corners. It may well be my favourite woodie now on the basis alone of it's use of simple theatrical effects and smoothness.
It is also possible this was the ride to heavilly influence Wodan as well.
Last & least of the coaster corner is Pyphon, the park's original coaster which opened in 1981 & made by Vekoma.
Well it was no surprise that this was my least favourite coaster at the park [and that's before we review the other two].
Aside from the lacking the overall theatre,theming & atmosphere due to being an older addition, the ride just feels rather short and a little dull, however the helix at the end was pretty good, least the ride was very smooth thanks to it's decent train designs.
Speaking on trains, I think this is the third or even fourth carnation of trains they have here two as the original trains were replaced at somepoint in the early 2000's by some form of vile Kumbak ones then may have been re-replaced by Vekoma ones before the current ones replaced them I think.
Whilst it's noticeably weaker than it's other coaster counterparts, I am sort of glad they've still got a ride like this in the park. Not just is it showing how much the park have progressed since it's early days amongst it's original coaster, but also a type of generic ride that seems to be sort of in a position of being endangered seeing how both Uk corkscrews removed [though one may have been spared], Walibi's Tornado & Holiday Land's corky coasters torn down. It's makes me question how long Heide's & even Garda's have left. I can see Efteling happily keeping theirs though for a while, especilly with the trains which were probably one of the best things about the ride.
The park's second classic coaster was Bob, built by Intamin a few years after Pyphon. This seems to Efteling's equivalent to Spinball, Crush or Boating School. Not so much in style but more so it suffers from having a high popularity but a low throughput. Fortunately a few years ago, the trains were replaced by newer ones which can take 6 instead of 4 people marking the throughput to a slightly better 850 PPH aprox. It's still the lowest throughput coaster though.
The ride still entails some fairly nice theming [though not a patch on the other coasters]. Bob was a fun ride, it really pulled some force when it went round it's corners and helixes. Slightly prefer this to Avalanche, whether that's due to one being in a picturesque forest & the other in the middle a grotty seaside town who knows, but I found this one to retain a better pace and the 'semi' night ride only helped add brownie points to this.
The final coaster at the park to do was Vogel Rok, a Vekoma indoor coaster which opened in 2001. This would by my fourth indoor coaster [and indoor Vekoma too for that matter as I'm yet to do an indoor coaster that isn't a Vekoma].
Didn't take many pics of this one for some reason, probably either due to my phone running out of storage or rushing the ERTs on day two.
A really great coaster here, packs a punch for it's short but sweet cycle and the music throughout the ride like most others at the park is superb, especially the fanfare'ish bit at the end. Reminds me a bit of a family/ non looping Space Mountain in a few ways here, no idea why.
It's probably my join second favourite indoor coaster right now after DLP's Space Mountain with RNR on the same place and X at Thorpe taking last place, the 2 people blanket rule probably hasn't helped it for me either [sorry X].
Moving from coasters now to dark rides [Vogel transitions this quite well really] where the park has a great selection. First off the highly impressive Fate Morgana, an Intamin tow boat ride which opened in 1986.
Essentially an Arabian equivalent of Pirates Of The Caribbean, the ride is pure perfection. The intimate yet high quality scenes and story of the landscape is so perfectly paced throughout the whole ride, starting in a jungle, heading in to town, jungle & palace landscapes before ending in jungle again which makes you wonder almost 'was what I experienced real'? Another sublime attraction, one of my favourite dark rides I have done. It obviously doesn't top tower but is definitely in my dark ride top 10's.
The next dark ride takes us away from the east to somewhere a lot more dreamy. It's Dream Flight [Droomvlucht]. This one opened in 1993.
Cattle Pens! least they're not like Saws. I think they were added after the ride opened due to it's popularity I believe.
I have never seen so much charm built in to a dark on such a large scale.
Whilst it doesn't top Fate Morgana, I adored Dream Flight, from it's astounding soundtrack, large, high quality set pieces and lighting affects alongside the coaster section at the end [which is a lot faster in person the POV's suggest]. Was unsure on this ride on my first go what to think of it, but grew on me a lot more on the second go to become one of my park favourites and at nearly 25 years old [scary the fact the ride is the same age as me ], in no way does the attraction appear dated in anyway.
Liseberg's Fairy Tale ride is surely a patronising insult in comparison.
after the charming forests of Dream Flight, we move on to the comical world of Festival Carnival which is one of the park's most famous rides.
Definitely one of the park's more comical attractions, and unPC to say the least. Apparently a critic slated this ride for it's subtle racism a few years ago [despite praising the rest of the park] and as a result received lots of backslash and even death threats.
Carnival Festival is such a fun ride, from it's bright colours, catchy soundtrack to amusing depications of the world. It feels like an It's A Small World style ride done in a Bubbleworks [pre 2006] format. Though it's not making the top list, it's a dark ride I strongly enjoy. This was Daniel Sheldrake's favourite ride of the trip too [who as a result bought the ride's music at the end].
The park's final dark ride is nestled in the forest on this cold autumn day. [note the failed Hex reference].
It's Villa Volta, the park's mad house which opened in 1996. Although it preceeded it by four years, the ride's biggest problem is it's frequently compared to Hex at Alton Towers which unfortunately affects the ride's experience, at least to begin with.
Unfortunately, I too was in that camp of comparing, however before hand, here's what I thought.
Villa Volta is definitely a beautifully detailed attraction, the facade fits in perfectly with the nearby Ravelijan & Dream Flight, not to mention the animatronic figure in the second pre-show is of high quality. Unfortunately, this was potentially my lesser favourite of the dark rides, not so much that this was a bad ride [far from it], but I struggled getting the storyline really, however reading up after my trip I believe the basic story is of some gang robbing a town or something [ with Villa Volta being the leader's home] and a woman cursing them with that the leader will never have peace or something like that].
Looking back at the pre-shows which I vaguely remember, this seems accurate especially with the animatronic being the gang leader himself. I probably should've done a re-ride to be fair as you can't really judge a ride on just one go. Soundtrack though was impressive as was the decor in the ride itself. However unfortunately on these grounds mentioned earlier, Hex still wins the battle by a long shot. Hex features some amazing theatrical build up's aside from it's also just as impressive soundtrack and even the subtle things like the evil face when the room turns upside down. But enough review of Hex now.
The last notable ride yet to be ventured at the park is the Pirana Rapids, a massive wild water set of rapids which is the park's main water ride.
Safe to say is now my favourite Rapids rides, and probably the roughest too. Quite often our boat was get stuck in different pockets throughout the ride and may sometimes take a while to get out too. Wetness levels were mild-moderate soaking [ around Dragon Falls soaking level] which was refreshing to say the least. a slightly better Congo or themed Viking River Splash essentially.
Amongst other rides at the park include, this impressive Pirate Ship [second after Buccaneer].
The strangest carnation of a sea storm ride, it doesn't go too fast nor does it turn backwards [the theming is decent though].
These very very stiff tea cups which for that alone make it my least favourite ride on park. The theming & soundtrack were still good though.
Too many caroulsels to count.
This Get Set Go style ride
This boating ride [one of the few attractions I didn't do at the park].
There was a sky view ride called Pagoda, but sadly this one was closed for refurbishment during the visit.
Efteling has some really good rides there amongst some which are just ok. You can definitely see which rides are the more recent ones with all the intricate details and elements included and those that are park veterans and stick out more than others and not so much in a good way.
However, the rides at Efteling are only half the experience as there's lots more to experience than just rides. And that's what we will look in to in Part 2 where we look in to what flipping forests of fairytale fountains can be discovered at Efteling apart from it's decent selection of rides.