Oh, oh, oh Gardaland

Gardaland

After a visit to Disneyland in Anaheim, California in the early 70s, businessman Livio Furini decided to create his own park. At that time no place seemed more suitable than an area within sight of Lake Garda, after all this is the first lake of its size that tourists, coming from the Brenner motorway, have been occupying since the late fifties and have not given it away since then; finest Mediterranean feeling without the Mediterranean Sea, of course. With the help of some local entrepreneurs, Gardaland opened its doors for the first time in 1975 and has been growing steadily ever since. In 2006 the British Merlin Entertainments Group bought the park for 550 million euros. Two hotels a few kilometres away complete the offer.

Arriving at the car park, the crowd of people promised a pleasant day’s visit, but this was not necessarily reflected at the cash desks and at the entrance. Really stupid German park guests in their teens, who had probably never been to an international amusement park before, also delayed the ticket purchase immensely by explicitly asking for two Eintrittskarten. It’s very easy to do so, if you order the tickets in English, put down your Merlin 2:1 voucher and pay the money. Afterwards they wish you a wonderful day in finest German. With the tickets in hand, we went straight into the park, where I had to wait for Dominik, as he hadn’t been able to close the gap behind an Italian family. In general, the access area to Gardaland is somewhat disadvantageously built.

Fantasy Kingdom

Right at the beginning you are spoilt for choice by walking through two children’s areas. You can choose between the medieval area of Gardaland, where there is a horse carousel and several playground equipment, and the Fantasy Kingdom, where you can find Prezzemolo and his friends, the park mascots. They are cult in Italy and in 2002 they even got their own TV series, incidentally one of the early projects of the Rainbow studio (Winx Club, Huntik and some more, whose licence is now used in Rainbow Magicland close to Rome), with 26 episodes in total. Prezzemolo, which translates as parsley in English, is a shy dragon who, while eating pizza topped with strawberries, becomes He-Man and helps his friends. The series is actually not bad, although I don’t understand a word of Italian, and it shapes the style of the theme area immensely.

The centrepiece of this is an artificial tree, which, similar to the Cabane des Robinson of the Disneyland Park in Paris, is accessible. Inside there are some rooms inhabited by Prezzemolo and his friends, which are very nicely decorated. Continuing upwards you climb a staircase until you reach the balcony in the artificial treetop. Up here you can have your picture taken with Prezzemolo or simply enjoy the view of Gardaland and nearby Lake Garda. A staircase around the tree leads you down again. It gets quite interesting in the cellar of the tree, where the Magic House is located.

Magic House

After entering the entrance hall to Prezzemolo’s happy home, a magician appears and speaks to the visitors. The room in which you are currently located is extended. Prezzemolo is greeted with great excitement in his living room and explains that the strange voice that is heard from time to time means that there are hardly any visitors left. Suddenly strange things happen and the magician speaks again to the guests of the house. Now the restless ghost explains that this was once his laboratory and he has got used to living in the same house with Prezzemolo a little bit, but now he declares it to be his own. He then invites the visitors to a small illustration of his powers, in which he turns the house upside down. On the way out, Prezzemolo tells his visitors about a strange dream in which his house and a magician played an important role.

It’s kind of cool to stand in front of a huge building and take a lift a few meters down to the basement to visit a completely underground Mad House. Unfortunately the comic look of the drum robs the illusion a little bit, here you could have achieved even more with additional effects. The music is coherent and the Italians listen attentively to the story, which makes it easy to follow the story, at least in theory.

The rest of Fantasy Kingdom looks like the prototype of all the more modern children’s kingdoms. Similar to the younger Sesamo Aventura from the Spanish Port Aventura near Salou, there are other rides, e.g. a quite neatly designed tractor ride, a small monorail and other smaller carousels in an elaborate design.

Raptor

A little above this area is the entrance to Raptor, the prototype of the Wing Coaster from Bolliger & Mabillard. Similar to the notorious roller coaster Nemesis of the English amusement park Alton Towers, this ride presents itself as an alien, which was found by chance during construction work in the park. While Nemesis was tamed into a steel-like structure and has been used as a ride for the towers’ guests ever since, the Genetix Initiative, a paramilitary organisation, tried to tame the found creature in the specially built X-Labs in Gardaland. But all attempts failed and Raptor succeeded in breaking out.

In a short left-hand bend, the train leaves the station and immediately climbs the lift hill. While the newer versions of the ride slowly turn their passengers by 180°, the Raptor plunges into the depth, which leads to unexpected airtime, especially in the back rows. Powerfully the train crosses the first valley and then makes a steep turn to the left. Without any rest, the alien falls to the ground again and doesn’t hesitate to use its power. In a zero-g roll you are now turned upside down for the first time, leaving it in a left turn. Now you cross the entrance portal of the ride on a hill, whereupon the train throws itself into a curve close to the ground, which serves as an introduction into a somewhat elongated corkscrew. A right-hand bend close to the ground, passing the lift hill of the ride, follows, but is immediately replaced by another left-hand bend. This leads into a very long in-line twist, a straight roll, which is equipped with some Near Miss elements. Shortly afterwards we land in the braking section of the track, where we can spend some time in the now tightly fitting restraint waistcoats. Another left turn brings us down to the hangar level again.

Although Raptor is the smallest representative of its kind with a height of 33m and a length of just 770m, the ride is one of the better ones, as long inversions are accompanied by tight curves and forceful valleys. Although the Near Miss elements are negligible, the ride in Gardaland surprises all the more with its rather unconventional first drop (it’s strange that through the whole hipster movement with its unconventional mainstream, something absolutely classic can now be called unconventional, as nobody uses it anymore). Compared to the other European rides, Raptor is clearly ahead due to its more dynamic ride, especially since The Swarm from Thorpe Park, England, has lost all of its driving sophistication again due to the renewed rotation of the two rear cars.

4D-Adventure Cinema

A few meters further on you will find the Spectacular 4D-Adventure Cinema, which contains a simulator with quite long rows made by Intamin. The ride was opened in 1990 under the name Cinema Dinamico as the first of its kind in Europe and showed up to 6 different films per day, including a film showing the wooden roller coaster Colossus from the amusement park Six Flags Magic Mountain. In 2001 the theatre was rebuilt, whereupon 3D films were shown, which were lifted into the fourth dimension by the additional movements. As always with such attractions the quality of the films varies immensely, mostly the movements of the passenger carrier are jerky and moreover asynchronous to the image, which makes them a guarantee for whiplash injuries of any kind and motion sickness.

I Consari

A little quieter, but by no means less spectacular, is the dark ride I Corsari. In defiance of the imminent opening of the Euro Disney Resort in Paris in 1992, Gardaland created the most expensive attraction in the world at the time. And so it is hardly surprising that the already very limited space of Gardaland was optimally utilised by an additional underground hall. Access to the dark ride is on the deck of a huge galleon, in whose hull the queue including the station is located.

Hired as sailors of a huge galleon we immediately try to escape the cruel captain Jason Montague in two nutshells. Our way leads us directly into the jungle, where dangerous animals and dead pirates make us understand the cruel reality of our business. A parrot tries to keep us from our goings-on, but we know that returning to the captain will be no less harmless. In a cave we meet a rotten ship whose restless crew is still among us. We narrowly escape and end up in a supposedly safe environment. The pirates here seem to be nice and friendly, but above all, they like to drink. We are advised to turn left and through a sewer system we end up in a swamp. If this environment was not deadly enough, we are attacked by a sea snake with human appearance in the next moment. But even here we manage to escape and are immediately rewarded with a legendary treasure. Freshly hanged pirates do not bode well and so we are not surprised when a huge galleon sounds the order to attack. It is our old team leader Captain Montague, who not only destroys the fort next to us, but also guides us into the depths of the sea.

I Consari can easily be called the best pirate theme cruise in Europe without devaluating the Disneyland classic Pirates of the Caribbean too much. The ride itself is extremely harmonious and the animatronics used are impressive, as is the entire set design.

Sequoia Adventure

Next to the log flume Colorado Boat, which was built in 1984 and is a rather classic ride with two shots, is the entrance to Sequoia Adventure, a truly special roller coaster made by S&S. The layout of the Screaming Squirrel promises a very exciting ride with three, slightly longer, overhead passages.

Once the manufacturer’s typical airy brackets have been set and locked, the car starts to move and immediately rolls towards the curve, which grips the car over two raised rails under the arms and lets it slide onto the actual track. Here, the trolley couples back to its original rail profile and is immediately transported upwards in the lift. Once at the top, the car completes a short straight line before it is braked and transported very slowly over the hilltop. In the so-called saxophone element, which actually looks a bit like the musical instrument, you drive back the straight line upside down before you are slowly turned around in a turn. The whole game is repeated two more times, whereby after the second saxophone it goes up a little bit to get to the correct starting height for the third saxophone. Towards the end another turn leads the car back to the station.

Sequoia Adventure is a wonderfully wacky roller coaster that celebrates its longer overhead passages virtually by itself. All these passages are quite pleasant, but the turns are unfortunately not without jerks, which is especially noticeable after the second saxophone with its free cut. But the ride itself is fun and with its wonderful different layout it is a real eye-catcher.

Magic Mountain

In 1981 the Dutch amusement park Efteling presented Python, the largest and most exciting roller coaster in Europe. Two years later, Heide Park Soltau introduced Big Loop, a similarly exciting but higher ride, which attracted a lot of attention. Gardaland also recognised this trend and in 1985 offered Magic Mountain, the most exhilarating roller coaster in Italy at the time, also modelled on the Carolina Cyclone of the American amusement park Carowinds.

As with Python, the train leaves the station in Gardaland on a small gradient, followed by a left turn. Shortly afterwards the train hooks up to the lift chain, which takes it to a starting height of 29m. This is followed by a small gradient and another 180° left turn before the train races down the track. The colourful train advertising for Coca Cola now passes through a very powerful valley and immediately passes the first loop and then the second loop of the ride. On a straight line the train gains a bit of height and shortly after that it takes a curve. This brings the train up to the starting height of the corkscrews, which you enter at a remarkable slant. While the wagons are screwed through this, the world is turned upside down two more times. After a small hill, you now complete an upward helix around a fountain, after which the braking section is waiting.

Magic Mountain is a great older type of roller coaster, which doesn’t have to hide from newer rides due to its truly intense dynamics, even though both trains were only half occupied. (One train with three cars, the other with four). The ride itself runs faster than its Dutch counterpart and therefore has a lot of pressure from the beginning, which is transferred to the passengers as well as to the track. Vekoma’s new trains generally enhance the ride, but the strange Coca Cola branding and the even stranger clearance on the day of the visit detracts from it.

Kung Fu Panda Academy

Behind the big looping roller coaster, the Kung Fu Panda Academy in Gardaland is currently under construction, which will feature the Fabbri Spinning Coaster Kung Fu Panda Master, the redesigned tea cup carousel Mr. Ping’s Noodle Suprise and the Kung Fu Panda Chi School.

Ortobruco Tour

In the farthest corner, still behind the entrance to the monorail, the cog ride and the toddler carousel is the entrance to the Ortobruco Tour, probably the world’s largest Big Apple. The ride opened in 1990 with a much shorter layout, but this was extended to its current length in 1993, probably also for capacity reasons. From a technical point of view, the Pinfari roller coaster is quite impressive due to the number of friction wheel lifts, as well as the fully automated trains.

After a right-hand bend, the train goes through a longer straight line, whereupon the first lift hill follows after another right-hand bend. At the top, the train passes a left turn and slowly picks up speed. Over hill and dale or the typical waves of every Big Apple the way to the next curve is now overcome. After the turn, the second lift follows, whereupon a downward right helix is added. This is followed by the third lift above the queue, which merges into a right-hand bend. In its original version, this lift led the train into the station, but in the current version it leads the train into the fourth lift. Now one circles the building of the toddler carousel by about 90°, completing a straight drop and a straight gradient after a slightly bent valley. Immediately you go downhill again in another right helix. You leave this one in a slight incline, which here also merges into a lift. In a helix to the left the train makes the subsequent descent. Here too, the speed of the train is kept alive by additional friction wheels in the following ascent. Now the train goes through a right-hand bend, which is then transferred to a left-hand bend after a slight bend; shortly after that the station appears.

The Ortobruco Tour is a nice children’s roller coaster, which always gives the feeling of sitting in a bigger Zierer Tivoli than in a Big Apple, because the speed and the track length suggest it. The ride is at least good and the decoration, which interestingly comes from the former Gardaland Waterpark near Milan, is quite impressive.

Ramses Il Risveglio

The first major dark ride in Gardaland opened in 1987 with Valle dei Rei, which, due to the seemingly endless popularity of interactive dark rides, was redesigned into Ramses Il Risveglio in 2009. The ride suffered the same fate as Duel from Alton Towers and Tomb Blaster from Chessington World of Adventures.

The story is now about strange phenomena that occurred during restoration work and an evil that wants to subjugate the world. We already had a similar storyline with Raptor, but in contrast there are robot mummies and finest metal sounds. If the typical sound of the guns would not be there, as for example in this year’s redesign of Tomb Blaster, I would really enjoy the ride. All in all, the ride is of course well worth seeing and the ride system by Pinfari is well worth experiencing. The general design is outstanding and the futuristic metal mummies are a pretty cool idea.

Below the Gardaland Theatre is the 4D cinema of Gardaland, where an Ice Age film is currently being shown. Normally this is reason enough to stay away from the cinema, after all the first Ice Age 4D film was a poorly edited version of the otherwise brilliant third cinema adventure around Manny, Sid, Diego and Co., but now the Blue Sky Studios have released a 4D film especially tailored for Scrat and it is really good. Scrat finds a time machine and travels through several eras, of course always in search of his hazelnut. The effects were well used, but the few Italian text passages were not subtitled and are not necessary for the overall understanding of the film.

Space Vertigo

Space – the final frontier. The year is 1998, and these are the voyages of the starship Space Vertigo. Its crew of 16 is on its way for about 30s to investigate basic physical equations. In not quite as many vertical meters as comparable towers, Space Vertigo boldly go where no one has gone before on a freefall tower. Aha hahahaha ha (3x).

Somehow this convoluted nature of the Star Trek intro text fits in well with Gardaland and Space Vertigo, after all the space theme has its origins in the opening year of Gardaland and thus on the European wave of popularity of the series, which was discontinued at the end of the 1960s. The queuing area consists mainly of octagonal corridors in which monitors with outdated visual material are embedded. The station is no less purist, but apart from bulky lamps it has hardly any decorative elements; but that is not what really matters here either. The tower shows, similar to the Funland drop ride on Hayling Island, that height is an extremely negligible parameter for a free-fall tower. This tower rocks tremendously, but the waiting time here was a bit long.

Oblivion – The Black Hole

Just as high as the tower next door, Oblivion – The Black Hole, a dive coaster by Bolliger & Mabillard, freely inspired by Oblivion from its sister park Alton Towers, stretches up into the sky. While Oblivion’s story revolves around the ride itself and the hole to be passed through, the story of Oblivion – The Black Hole concentrates on the black hole in its name, which is to be investigated.

After passing the stylish, partly interactive, queue and boarding the train, the journey begins after a short countdown. Following a small bend, you immediately climb the lift hill, which takes you up to the starting height of 42.5 m. At the top you approach the position of the black hole through a left turn. The track bends downwards, the train follows this movement but is still prevented from falling vertically by a holding brake. A few seconds pass by and the train approaches the black hole at a rapid pace, with the surrounding objects which have been attracted by the hole showing their near miss character more closely than on the Wing Coaster in the same park. The train now makes its way through the adjoining tunnel, which attracts attention through fog and integrated lighting effects. In an Immelmann you skilfully change direction and then approach the ground level. Through a small building you pass another valley before you climb up the camelback, which skillfully takes you out of your seat. This is followed by a 270° downward helix, which releases you into a heartline roll rotating in the same direction. A short climb later you reach the braking section and soon after the station.

Oblivion – The Black Hole is a good roller coaster with an excellent layout, but a little identity problem. In theory, the ride covers almost the same story as Oblivion, only that the whole layout at Alton Towers is simply better. It looks like a half-hearted remake of an indisputably brilliant movie, yet the hardware of the ride is not responsible for this feeling. This and the general layout of the ride ultimately ensure that Baron 1898 from the Dutch amusement park Efteling is the better of the two Dive Coasters that opened in 2015.

Mammut

Passing the Flying Island with the same name and an overall successful design that fits the theme area, the way leads us towards the roller coaster Mammut, which uses the basic layout of the Vekoma Mine Trains and adds a total of 245m track length. The design of the ride is supposed to be an expedition to the North Pole and can convince with its general theming and the presence of a giant mammoth, but things look a bit different when it comes to the ride.

It starts off immediately with a right-hand bend, followed by the first lift hill, which unfortunately takes you up in a very straight line. Once there, you leave the hill in a left helix, where you pick up some speed. Three 180° curves with implied valleys and hills follow each other like in a slalom, the first of these curves running to the right. After a drop below the lifts, and a subsequent uphill left turn, you reach the first brake. This is followed by a left turn and the second lift hill, which again runs in an unorthodox straight line. So far the mother of all Vekoma mine train coasters Calamity Mine from the Belgian amusement park Walibi Belgium is already a lot more entertaining due to its sloping lifts, but there are still some more meters to go to generate a completely different opinion. Slightly higher than after the first lift hill you see daylight again and shortly after that you descend a long righthand helix and get a little closer to the ground. A wide left turn brings you a little bit up the hill again, but this is also followed by a downward helix to the right. Normally a left turn follows into the braking section and straight into the station, but in Gardaland the train now takes you into a left turn and up the third lift hill, because we haven’t discovered the mammoth that gives the ride its name yet. We leave the highest point of the ride, how else could it be, in another helix, this time leading us down to the ground. Passing the mammoth, we make a small turn in lofty heights and immediately make a right turn. After a steeper descent we pass under the first two lifts and make a last 180° turn, whereupon the final braking section awaits us.

Mammut could be a really good Mine Train, if it weren’t for the rather miserable ride characteristics. Compared to almost all other Mine Trains of the same manufacturer, the ride vibrates unpleasantly, so you can’t really talk about having fun after the first two parts of the ride. Only the third part of the ride brings something unexpected out of the standard layout, but unfortunately this does not improve the ride characteristics.

Jungle Rapids and Fuga da Atlantide

Behind the very neatly designed rapid river Jungle Rapids with a good degree of wetness lies the Intamin Super Splash Fuga da Atlantide. With a rather classic spillwater layout, the ride humidifies the passengers with bravura, even though much less than a Shoot the Chute normally does; this may also be due to the (at least for sun-drenched Italians) rather wintry temperature of about 18°C. Interestingly, the descents here run on roller coaster tracks and the lifts were solved by cable lifts. Apart from that, the wonderful design of the ride is inevitable, but the ride itself could be better.

Blue Tornado

As the only attraction visible from afar, mainly due to its elevated position in Gardaland, the suspended looping coaster Blue Tornado stretches upwards. Due to its open design, this toy jet coaster is an unparalleled eye-catcher, which is mainly due to the extraordinary photogenicity of the track profile. The ride is always in motion due to the three-train operation, which theoretically results in lots of photos, if you are not distracted by dancing robots.

As in every standard SLC, the ride begins with the gain of potential energy by a chain lift on a straight line leading upwards. Once there, you cross or rather undercross a hilltop, which immediately releases you into a steep curve. At a decent speed you now cross the following valley before you are turned upside down twice in a roll over. Back at ground level, the train shoots up a sloping hill. Parallel to the station you now reach the lowest point of the ride, which is also flooded with fog. In a sidewinder you now change direction, whereupon a helix is added. You leave the station with two in-line twists. A right turn lets you cross the first slope, but instead of approaching the end in a staggering manner, the train shoots down one last time and passes a helix close to the ground, which is often called bonus helix in the (roller coaster) vernacular. This is followed by the braking section and the return to the station. Surprisingly, the ride is fun and the ride characteristics are good. We even rode it more than once.

Pictures Gardaland

Conclusion Gardaland

Gardaland is a nice and above all good amusement park, which can be relatively easily described as the Italian Alton Towers. The theme areas are mixed and only rarely have a clear line, but the park scores with its exceptionally good rides, especially the dark ride I Consari. In general, there is a visible effort to make the guests have a pleasant day, which is also reflected in the guests of the park. In spite of the popular holiday region, the park guests behave in an exemplary manner, there is no queue jumping at all, groups even let you in and you can easily hang your luggage on the appropriate storage facilities, usually far away from the actual attraction, without the risk of something being stolen. In addition, the park is filled with songs composed especially for the park, so that at the end you have to rave to Oh, Oh, Oh Gardaland in the disco tunnel leading to the car park.


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Baron Hooghmoed, Prime comes before the fall!

Preface

No other amusement park made it so easy this year to visit the park as easy as Efteling. In order to promote his new roller coaster Baron 1898, the park gave me, as many other people, a free ticket out of the blue. Therefore, in the middle of October – shortly before the ticket expired – on a very rainy day, I took a trip to the Dutch village of Kaatsheuvel.

Efteling

The Efteling amusement park originated as a fairytale forest in 1952, but originally as a nature park in the 1930s, where a total of 10 fairy tales were told. Under the direction of the artist Anton Pieck, after whom the central square with a few smaller carousels in the Marerijk area is named, the fairy tale forest grew steadily and – unlike most other theme parks – never lost its importance. Beside the talking tree Sprookjesboom, which tells the children the fairy tales of Sprookjesbos in Dutch, you will find some bizarre and very interesting things, such as the Indian water lilies or the flying fakir. Especially with smaller children you can easily spend most of the time in the park in this area.

Droomvlucht

However, the most popular and most visited attraction in the Efteling since 1993 has been the Droomvlucht dark ride, which takes you past larger scenes of fairies, elves, trolls and other fairy-tale creatures in suspended gondolas. Although the dream flight, as the English name suggests, could hardly be more cheesy and superimposed, the ride through the dream scenes is definitely fun and the descent taking place in a 1080° helix is truly unusual.

Villa Volta

Next to the Ravelijn show, for which translations are available, there is the prototype of all modern Mad House attractions, the Villa Volta. The story of the Bokkenrijders, a band of robbers from the 18th century, is presented. Hugo van den Loosche Duynen is the aged landlord of the villa, who robbed a deserted, but richly stocked abbey with his gang and was cursed by a suddenly appearing woman and since then cannot find his peace anywhere. Only a person with a clear conscience can release his spell, which is why Hugo invited volunteers to his house.

A Mad House is a ride in which a gondola, with two rows opposite each other, in a rotating drum is swivelled about 30° to both sides. The rotating, highly decorated drum gives the impression of turning upside down in a room, the pivoting of the passenger carrier underlines this by the generated accelerations. The event is accompanied by suitable music and lighting, and if necessary by various other effects. The Villa Volta is not only the pioneer of this type of attraction, but also one of its best examples.

Volk van Laaf

In the village of the people of Laaf you can watch the Laaf during their daily life or take a monorail tour through the colonnades of the houses. The people of Laaf are reminiscent of Holle Bolle Gijs, who can be found throughout the park. These are talking garbage cans that say “paper here!” and encourage the little guests of the park to throw their garbage into the gullets of the never-full inhabitants of the park.

Monsieur Cannibale

Monsieur Cannibale also likes to eat one with pleasure, although it is only a teacup ride in which you sit in some bigger cooking pots instead of cups. The ride is not so interesting because of the heavy to turn gondolas, but the catchy tune of the song of the same name by Sacha Distel certainly contributes to it.

Carnaval Festival

The best you can do in the Reizenrijk is to travel, therefore a ride in the cars of the Carnaval Festival dark ride should not be missed. Accompanied by a merciless catchy tune, you accompany the jester Jokie on his always cheerful journey around the world, whereby the clichés of the corresponding countries were excellently staged. Carnaval Festival does not need to shy from the comparison with Disneyland Parks’ role model It’s a small World, as the ride offers everything a good dark ride needs to offer and in my opinion is even a bit better, as it is much less annoying.

Vogel Rok

Located next door is the dark roller coaster Vogel Rok, which immerses you in the world of the stories of 1001 Nights, at least in the stories of Sindbad the Seafarer. After the train has left the station it passes a short gradient within a right turn, whereupon the lifthill of the ride follows. Accompanied by laser effects we climb to the top of the lift and then immediately enter the main drop of the ride. With a slope of 55°, the train now races towards the ground in a left-hand bend. The height difference of 21m results in a speed of 67 km/h, which is kept constant in a very wide left turn close to the ground. Shortly thereafter the train shoots up and approaches the ground again in a slightly smaller radius. In the following valley we change direction. A curvy hill, past one of the name-giving birds, later we pass through an uphill helix, at the end of which we are eaten by a snake. Then, we pass a block brake before racing towards the ground in a left turn. The track then increases in height before the radius of the curve narrows down into a downward helix. The train now moves off the ground one last time and dives into a tunnel of lights. After that the brakes are reached and immediately after another right turn there is the station, which is usually approached with the loud music of the onboard sound system.

Vogel Rok is a great roller coaster of the type MK-900 by the Dutch manufacturer Vekoma, which delivers a short but thoroughly thrilling yet always harmonious ride. It is amazing how fast you can accumulate your laps on this coaster, if you stay a while when the park is less busy.

Gondoletta and Pagode

For those who like it a little more relaxed, the boat trip Gondoletta is the perfect choice. For 20 minutes the extra long Tow-Boat Ride of the company Intamin takes you across the entire lake and it is quite big. Since this year, in addition to the obligatory feeding of birds and the resulting siege of countless water birds, you have a really great view of the roller coaster Baron 1898. A similarly interesting view is guaranteed from the observation ride Pagode, a Flying Island also from the manufacturer Intamin, which brings you to a height of 45m without any tower structure. This happens basically by an oversized lever at whose end the passenger gondola is suspended and at whose other end the oversized counterweight is located.

Halve Maen, D’Oude Tuffer and Polka Marina

The swinging ship Halve Maen, which is currently the highest ship swing in Europe, can also be classified as a relaxing ride. Next to it you will find the vintage car ride D’oude Tuffer, which allows its cars to travel the long distance with rapid pace. Equally interesting, although only due to the outwardly inclined curves, is the Polka Marina ride by Vekoma, which always makes me smile.

Python

However, the things you are interested in in the Ruigrijk area are certainly not flat rides of the area, rather the roller coasters that reign this corner of the park. The first one was the Python steel roller coaster in 1981, which carried its passengers not only through one loop, but two consecutive loops. In fact Python was the highest steel roller coaster in Europe at that time and with its four inversions the most exciting roller coaster on the continent. Just as exciting as the coaster Carolina Cyclone of the American amusement park Carowinds, which was the first roller coaster worldwide to entertain its passengers with four turn-overs a year before. Efteling was therefore thinking big even back then!

The train leaves the station on a small gradient, followed by a left turn. Shortly after the train enters the lift chain, which brings it to 29m. A small slope and another 180° left turn follow before the train races down the main shot. Then the train passes through a powerful valley and enters the first loop, whereupon the game repeats itself in a second loop. On a straight incline the train gains some height and immediately throws itself into a curve. This leads the train to the starting position of the corkscrews, into which one enters at a remarkable angle. While the carriages screw their way through the corkscrews, the world is upside down two more times. After a small hill an upward spiral follows. Immediately afterwards the braking track is reached.

Python is a great roller coaster of an older design, which doesn’t have to hide itself due to its truly intense performance, especially in the evening. After the original Arrow trains, as well as the second train generation of the manufacturer Vekoma and trains of the manufacturer KumbaK had been used on the track, modern trains of the fourth train generation by Vekoma now enrich the the ride. Unfortunately I could not test them during the current visit, but the KumbaK trains gave a solid impression during a past visit.

Joris en de Draak

Wooden roller coasters have a long tradition in Efteling, dating back to 1991 when Pegasus, an absolutely boring and slowed down roller coaster for children, was built in the park. It was the first wooden roller coaster in the Netherlands. A year after its removal, Efteling build Joris en de Draak. This ride introduced two more wooden roller coasters of the popular manufacturer Great Coaster International (GCI) to the park. The background story is dedicated to the patron saint of the English, the dragon slaughterer Georg. The layout is divided into two tracks, Vuur and Water, both of which are duelling each other whilst showing different but somewhat balanced riding characteristics.

Both sides start parallel to each other, but a few meters apart, with a small gradient out of the station to which the lift hill is immediately added. Once at the top, both sides make an S-curve and a turn mirror-inverted to each other, so that the sides meet in the middle and thus deliver a race during the first drop. The trains then shoot through the first valley, which is immediately followed by a triple up, i.e. a triple combination of hills that always leads upwards. In the following right turn the sides lose each other.

With a double down, Water is showing its wild side right at the beginning of its independence. In a bumpy curve you fight your way to the right side of the course to cross more hills along the lake. In the same manner the train now makes a turn to the left.

Meanwhile Vuur also passes under its opponent in a double-down. In a flattened right bend you cross the truss of the lift hill whereupon a drop takes place immediately above the sidewalk. With a short look at the Vliegende Hollander a left turn is initiated. Over several hills one makes one’s way over the lake, whereby these are not so frequently present as on Water. A smooth right curve, which serves as a turn, follows. Thereupon both sides run next to each other again.

After a short straigth section, a smaller slope follows, to which a rather wild combination of right-left curves is attached, whereby both sides can show track sections inclined to the wrong direction. Soon the finish is reached and the winner of the race will be announced at the brake track. Afterwards you pass through the maintenance house and two left turns to the respective station, where you enter under fanfare or loud booing.

Joris en de Draak offers two good wooden roller coasters, but the rides are quite different and therefore not quite the same. Water offers the apparently wilder ride, because it is going over smaller hills and also the curves seem a little more daring, while Vuur is more careful with its gradients and therefore a little more efficient to tear his passengers back and forth. I can hardly explain why I preferred Water during my last visit in Efteling, as it was Vuur who convinced me more this time.

Vliegende Hollander

On the other side of the lake there is the Vliegende Hollander, a water roller coaster with a moving history. By this I don’t mean the problematic manufacturing process of the installation, where even another company was called in to solve the initial problems, but the story of Willem van der Decken, the captain of the Dutchman, a ship of the United East India Company. Due to his greed, the captain is more and more subject to piracy and even storms and holidays, when it was forbidden to set sail, didn’t stop him. “I will sail, storm or not, Easter or not. I will sail, even until Judgement Day,” said Willem, drawing a curse on him. Damned for eternity to sail the seven seas of the world, the Flying Dutchman races across the sea as a ghost ship with his black hull and burning sails.

The journey begins in a 17th century seaport. After leaving the station you can see in the first scene how your own boat sets sail. Fog is coming up and is getting denser, only a lamp at the bow gives some light. A storm comes up and with it the Flying Dutchman shows itself to the passengers. Through the hull one enters the interior of the ghost ship. A surprising drop follows and thereupon a rise, in which one is held immediately by a brake. Here Willem van der Decken shows his true face, whereupon the lift chain grabs and brings the boat to a height of about 22m. Immediately a steep turn follows out of the building towards the ground and through a fog-flooded building. A camelback is attached and shortly afterwards a horseshoe, i.e. an elevated turn, which you pass through with a considerable cross slope.  A short ascent leads to a block brake. This is followed by a small drop and a long bend, which then turns into a shot into the water basin. After the watering, the boat is transported back to the station by circulating chains.

The Vliegende Hollander offers an almost perfect mix of a dark ride and a water roller coaster, which was skillfully staged. The part in front of the lift hill is so atmospheric that you could almost skip the ending. But this one also does a good job, even if the finish could be wetter.

Baron 1898

On a highly atmospheric path, which also provides some nice insights into the roller coaster part of the water coaster, you can walk to this year’s novelty, the Dive Coaster Baron 1898. Even from far away, the appearance is convincing by its industrial charm and the framework structure, which carries the lift, as well as the first drop. The Rijksmijn winding tower transports the miners down into the shaft, where they are to mine as much gold as possible on behalf of Baron Hooghmoed. But the Witte Wieven, white women in Dutch folklore, who watch over the gold, want to prevent this. Gustave Hooghmoed doesn’t listen to the warning, so he urges the miners to climb into the mine. With a fearless “Glück Auf!” he says goodbye to his workers.

After boarding the train and lowering of the floor, the train starts moving towards the next room. In a musical way the Witte Wieven reappears. This time, it is not just a simple warning and they announce the sabotage of the descent, as pride comes before the fall. At a fast pace we climb the steep lift, which brings us to the starting height of 30m. Arrived at the top, a small section continues straight ahead whereupon we are pushed over the edge. Now we are held in this position for a few seconds until a bell rings and releases the train. From here we descend the vertical drop into a fog-flooded tunnel. The 37.5m difference in altitude produce a speed of about 90 km/h. At top speed we now enter the first inversion, an Immelmann with a relatively late rotation around its own axis. With a lot of power we pass through the following valley before we turn upside down in a Zero-G Roll. A short straight section later the train increases in height in a helix and immediately decreases in a small drop, whereby the transition takes place a little rough. After another hill we take a right turn, which releases us into the braking track. This is followed by the return to the station.

The exit from the station is via a gallery, which leads into a narrow corridor and, after a long staircase, releases the miner from the building. Funnily enough, an employee handed a CD with the Baron 1898 remix by DJ Hardwell as a personal souvenir. On the way back home the CD was heard almost continuously, although the connection to the Baron 1898 was not really clear. It’s just a nice song, which serves ideally as background music and an even nicer little gift from the amusement park.

The Baron 1898 is without exaggeration the best designed dive coaster in the world. Although it is only a compact version of this type of roller coaster, the ride in combination with the lush design and the worth seeing implementation of the storyline is a truly first-class roller coaster. The used baggage system, in connection with the tickets for the two shafts and the corresponding rows, works very well, so that from my point of view there is hardly any potential for improvement.

Piraña

One of the first major attractions of the amusement park is the Rapid River Piraña, opened in 1983, which was also the first of its kind in Europe. The ride in the round-boats along the concrete canal, which has some rapids and other elements, is good and can easily get you wet. There is also a possibility to get the passangers wet from the outside of the ride that can be used free of charge, but which can soak you with a bit of bad luck.

Spookslot

The Spookslot is one of the most famous and oldest attractions of the Efteling amusement park, although you should not expect a classic ghost train when you enter the haunted castle, although the outward appearance and the design of the queue make you expect a dark ride. Instead, you will find yourself in a larger room with several standing rows and watch a show worth seeing with countless mechanical figures.

Panda Droom

The ancient 3D film Panda Vision at the 4D cinema Panda Droom in the immediate vicinity is not quite as worth seeing. Anyhow, the special effects are rather special and should not be missed. In contrast to the many other venues in which this film was shown, the film was created especially for the Efteling in cooperation with the WWF, which is why animal welfare is far more important here through a preshow and further information options in the exit area.

Bob

In 1984 a truly new roller coaster concept from Intamin opened in the USA and, as so often the case, found its way to the Efteling a year later. The idea of a roller coaster with gondolas running free in a canal instead of on rails is not new since the flying turns of the 30’s, but the gondolas of the Swiss Bobsleigh pass through steep ascents and descents.

The ride in the Bobbaan, better known as Bob, begins on a straight out of the station. After a left turn you reach the lifthill, which brings you to a height of 20m. A steep left turn takes you downhill. The following valley is driven through with an absurd force, with the first change of direction taking place immediately. A swinging S-curve combination leads you up into the first block brake. Once again we descend in a steep left turn and get stoked by the high forces in the next valley. After a right turn, a left turn leads into the next block brake and also here the change of direction takes place in a powerful way. Also this block brake is left in the usual way. As we already have experienced before, the next valley is passed with a lot of momentum before a simple right helix leads us upwards. The car now crosses the last block brake and crashes towards the ground one last time, however this time in a right turn. A last change of direction, but not so brute, follows. After this turn the brakes follow and shortly after we reach the station.

Bob is a unique roller coaster, at least in Europe, although the American models now also have an exotic status. In comparison to the bobsleigh runs of the manufacturer Mack, which are better known in this country, the Swiss Bob can distinguish itself above all through its smooth running and the more adventurous course with its brilliant dynamics. The ride is simply fun and produces a permanent grin in my face which is why I always like getting on Bob again and again.

Fata Morgana

In a similar way I am very satisfied with the dark ride Fata Morgana, which convinces or better said overwhelms me with its oriental design. Although the ride was put into operation in 1986, it seems very modern and timeless with its human-like mechanical figures. The individual scenes are well equipped and very detailed, whereby the journey does not become boring even after several times. In addition, there is a continuous storyline with single moments of tension.

Aquanura

Every evening Aquanura, one of the biggest water shows in the world, takes place directly at the lake. It picks up the songs and rides that were experienced during the day and processes them with water, light and fire effects. During the day this is quite impressive, but at night it is definitely better.

Pictures Efteling

Conclusion Efteling

Efteling has always been a great amusement park, but it’s funny how often I forget about it, otherwise I would have visited the park more often. The park has so much to offer and with Baron 1898 and Aquanura even more, which is why I would like to call Efteling the best amusement park in Europe and not just because the park gave me the admission and a CD out of the blue. Despite the terrible weather, the park managed to entertain us very well, although our ride in the first row of Baron 1898 was by no means pleasant. With this year’s novelty everything has been done right, so I am looking forward to future projects from the park.

 

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