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Another damn Euro trip report - Part 3 (Phantasialand)

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Sandman, Oct 24, 2017.

  1. Sandman

    Sandman Well-Known Member

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    I was initially going to paste Howie’s trip report and change a few words, but I didn’t want a lawsuit on my hands.


    Basically, Howie had previously planned to hit Efteling, Toverland then Phantasia & Movie Park with the GF crew before rounding up the trip at Walibi Holland. I had previously visited Toverland & Phantasialand (but not for a while) and was keen to get back for… Taron. Can’t lie, Taron was the main target on my hit list. And to enjoy it with goons would be a privilege. I also expected Movie Park to be fun due to the company; and Star Trek looked pretty interesting.


    Anyway, after meeting Howie at the airport on Monday morning, we flew into Amsterdam Schiphol and got all the car hire faff out of the way.

    KLM cake & water aka breakfast
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    Goon Express ready to depart.
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    Our first port of call was a mildly wet Amsterdam. Some perfectly legal items were purchased, then it was back on the road, swerving between oncoming trams and curious looking cyclists as we tried to navigate our way out of Amsterdam and to the first hotel.



    TUESDAY 10TH - EFTELING

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    Woke up pretty fresh and enthusiastic for the first park of the trip. I was a bit anxious as to how busy Efteling might be. We had booked on what was meant to be a quiet day, but this was one of the parks I’ve heard can be rammed quite often despite the time of year.

    The drive from our hotel in Tilburg to Efteling was probably about 15-20 mins from what I can remember. Nice and easy. The sky looked somewhat gloomy, but as we pulled into the car park, the sun broke through a little bit and gave everything an extra autumnal glow. Oh, and the car park was completely empty. Win/win.

    Eerily quiet. Beautiful.
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    I’ve seen the Efteling entrance countless times in photos online etc, so I thought the whole ‘woah’ feeling wouldn’t hit me, but it did. The smallest chink of sunlight, the enchanting entrance music and the copious golden leaves scattered across the pathway, had created a magical feeling before I’d even gone beyond the entrance. A fantastic start to the trip.

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    We agreed to start with Baron, since y’know, it can be difficult for a goon not to immediately sniff out a B&M at the first sign of one. Plus, the other major creds were in that vicinity. So, off we went.

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    Along the way, I got my first real impressions of Efteling from inside the park. Clearly this was a well kept park, but I was already expecting that much. What surprised me is how consistent this was throughout such a big place. Literally no litter in sight. Music that flows almost seamlessly from one area to the next. Music and themes which would usually do little for me. It all seemed to fit so well with the time of year.

    Fountains appear thick and fast here.
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    And what do we have here?
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    I wasn’t really bowled over by the sight of Baron though. It certainly doesn’t look imposing, and I suppose the whole dive machine concept works so well based on that notion. The colour scheme was not complemented by the now mundane sky, and the trees in that area weren’t as colourful or seasonal as the others around the rest of the park. Also, I couldn’t help but have a certain image of Baron in my head, particularly one carved from that almost iconic photo taken by many of you at last year’s Ghosterforce. The blue sky and low lying golden sun matched with Baron’s extensive artificial mist and the train dangling over the drop proudly. I’m sure one of you can pull that photo up.

    Those custom supports are fab.
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    Instead, I got Barren 1898. Alright, it wasn’t that bad. Once we got up to the half-empty entrance and were equipped with our quirky ride tickets I got the feel for it pretty quickly. The entrance is nice, as is the music and pre-show. The ride experience was very fun, my first go actually reminded me of Daemonen weirdly, I couldn’t tell you why specifically. Our second ride was front row and a few hours later in the day, and I thought that ride was a lot better. Felt much floatier and that drop is just much more enhanced when you aren’t half staring at a seat in front of you. Yeah, it’s a really fun coaster. The theming and overall package is much more impressive than our own dusty old Oblivion. I still prefer the shorter ride experience of Oblivion, however.

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    Money shot.
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    Pre-warning for the rest of this report. A ton of this won’t be in order.

    We shifted over to Joris next. Again, doesn’t actually look visually impressive upon approach. That’s not to say all the little touches aren’t fantastic - because they are. The Dragon is really cool, the cobbled paths are all very nice and I do love the way it sits right beside the lake close to the other big coasters. I reckon Joris would suit being alone on that lake though, and Baron could've easily had it’s own area. But yeah, there’s something odd but interesting about this set-up.

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    So, Joris. Didn’t really have a clue what to expect. I probably haven’t seen a POV of this thing since it opened. I loved it! Firstly, that station music is super catchy and weirdly motivating. I was just eager to jump on and enjoy the experience. Think our first go was on the blue side (back row). I was surprised by how much lateral force you get on the initial turnaround before the drop. It really opens up for some great airtime moments on the first few drops and turns. One of my favourite sections is where both tracks intertwine by the bank of the lake. It also has a really good pace which is an important factor of a coaster for me. Isn’t it quite disappointing when a ride starts out really well and then just simmers out very noticeably?

    Lovely stuff.
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    After 4 rides on Joris in total (2 on each side, front & back) I reckon I prefer the blue side. Not by much, they are pretty similar aside from a couple of little sections. Great overall woodie. Love the boos & cheers after completing the race.

    We won 1 ride in 4, so plenty of boos for us.
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    This coaster & theme made me feel like the whole Medieval England thing is really under utilised by some of our UK parks. It’s a really rich period with lots of creative possibilities for a theme park to work with. Merrie England is a prime example, ‘cause it was pretty turd, wasn’t it? And Camelot did give it a good go to be fair, but they just didn’t quite hit the mark when it came to quality. I’m talking about a Klugheim level themed area, with a nice big ass medieval coaster, and a slightly pretentious restaurant complete with roaming characters, ambient music and 1 hours exclusive ERT after park close for hotel guests ;)

    We aimed to hit Python right after a few rounds on Joris, but on the walk over I spotted a couple of workmen on a cherry picker faffing with the track. Bit annoying but I wasn’t going to be too picky because a. it doesn’t look that great and b. I was just appreciating the unusually dead park and the fact we would be able to re-ride most things at will.

    Oh wellll.
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    Since it was also in the area, it was time to experience Vliegende Hollander. The queue time was apparently 15 mins but we walked right onto a boat. The station was gorgeous, it’s a shame it was too dark to get a decent photo, but I’m sure everyone has seen it by now.

    Here's the famous 'outside bit'.
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    The initial dark ride section was so epic. It’s a pretty simple set-up mind you, but that little lantern at the front of the boat coupled with the effective use of the mist and also that haunting music. So good. I love dramatic dark rides. Once you hit the outside part, it feels a wee bit anti climactic and generally the coastery stuff is meh. The first drop into the misty tunnel is pretty cool, but going from a s**t hot dark ride section back into daylight just didn’t have much of a punch.

    Mist is to Efteling what HB leisure is to Alton Towers.
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    From here, we decided to delve further into uncharted waters on the hunt for the missing creds. We took a few wrong turns here and there, and as a result managed to see some lovely things.

    A weird little hedge maze?
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    Luvvley.
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    Howie made this local chap look worried.
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    It was time to head to Vogel Rok.

    I have to admit, I love indoor coasters. Especially the REALLY dark ones, the sort that enthusiasts find boring. Basically :emoji_poop:ehawk, except to me it’s Alrighthawk. Vogel Rok certainly has the superior entrance. Probably my favourite entrance for an indoor coaster. It’s got a bit of a classic Hollywood feel to it, with the painted backdrop like an retro film set. I love that the bird actually moves too.

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    We managed 2 rounds on this, but one was later on in the afternoon. I thought it was another really fun coaster. Better than Alrighthawk. The soundtrack, again, fantastic stuff from Efteling. And this one wasn’t pitch black, but I liked that there were some points of reference (some nicely lit sections) as you whizzed round with this epic music blasting. It was generally a good bit of fun.

    Spot the Howie
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    And off we went again. This time to the last cred of the day? Or maybe it was Vogel Rok last? Lost again. But while we’re at it, shout out to those Unox hot dogs sold around the park. Really tasty mustard on those bad boys!

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    Anyway, we did Bob and I actually enjoyed it. Bit more snappy than the Mack versions, but I love how weirdly steep some of the drops are, and how out of control they feel compared to the Macks. Nice to bag this little gem before it gets torn apart. Bob is probably the most ‘authentic’ bobsled experience I’ve had. Maybe they’ll become popular again in like 30 years, when all the future hipsters want to revive all the dodgiest, roughest coasters and charge even more to go on them. You’ll probably see a few in Shoreditch soon actually.

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    Since all the creds cough Python cough were now done, we went on a mission to discover the wonder that was the ‘big pirate ship’, which Howie had mentioned at points throughout the day. As the day progressed however, Howie had started to doubt whether said ‘big pirate ship’ was really that big. Turns out it was pretty big, and we enjoyed it enough to re-ride later in the day. Woo!

    The bins at Efteling are brilliant. Look at this handsome devil.
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    Then, we decided to do a dark ride run, starting with the newest first. What did Symbolica have to offer us?

    Well, firstly a very delightful looking exterior. You can tell the owners have splashed out a bit on this thing, because it’s now almost the centre piece of the park. The queue is also very interesting, and quite a good experience itself. I probably think this partly because I didn’t have to stand around ages and queue in it, but also the little pre-pre-show section and the journey beyond the magic staircase and down into the deep underground is decent. And then we come to the ride experience.

    It’s interesting. I’m actually finding it hard to elaborate on that. But I’ll try. Basically, I thought it was interesting from a technical perspective; to see so much going on at once, lots of advanced set pieces as you swiftly glide from one room to the next in the trackless car. All the timings were spot on regarding the music, lighting, animatronics and movements. My bug just happens to be that there’s no real consistency or narrative as such. Or not that I could deduce from each scene I saw. Dark rides like these are really enhanced by a narrative/dramatic progression of sorts, but I felt like there was just a linear journey through random sequences on this. Cool sequences, but nothing to fully draw me into the spectacle.

    More general loveliness as seen around the park.
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    By this point I’d remembered that Fata Morgana was a dark ride and existed here, at Efteling! I had no idea what it was like at all, but we decided to hunt it down in this maze of a park. Along the way, we spotted a ride that Howie very briefly remembered riding (and enjoying) on his last visit years ago. And once again, we walked right on.

    The ride was Droomvlucht, by the way. And to my surprise, I enjoyed it slightly more than Symbolica. Is that mental?

    So what did I enjoy about this ride? To put it quite simply, the imaginative sets, the artistic direction, the way the ride works it’s way around particular scenes (almost like a film camera tracking in and around) setting a magical mood.

    A great example of this is in one of the final scenes in a rainforest. The lighting is coming directly down from above, lit carefully to mimic the sunlight casting onto the trees. The music is tranquil and mysterious. Lots of waterfalls and mist (which I now realise is a staple of Efteling) with animatronics. I also love the Castle/planet scene. Gives me some weird 70’s fantasy vibe. Thumbs up from me!

    Next came the rapids. Pretty fun, but the theme seems at odds with the rest of Efteling. I suppose this whole area has a mish mash of themes, but Pirana’s seemed to stick out a bit more than the others. Needs more pixie dust.

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    All great theme parks have a token madhouse, and Efteling is no exception. Villa Volta is perhaps the brightest madhouse I’ve actually done… I think? It’s definitely better and more interesting than most - partly for that reason. It’s also another pretty ride on offer here, so another thumbs up from me.

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    Pagoda. Pretty ride. Thumbs up.
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    Pretty area. Thumbs up.
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    Thumbs up.
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    By this point I was getting a bit pissed off. Where were the crappy bits? No cheap game stall to throw the magic off kilter. No school kids with fidget spinners to drag me back to reality. This was a really decent experience, just walking around an empty park with things to see as well as ride.

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    One thing we unfortunately missed out on was Raveleijn.
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    But we did eventually find Fata Morgana which we thought was very easy to miss if you were casually passing it. This was another ride that I got a different ‘vibe’ from as we plodded through the queue. I now know it’s all inspired by 1001 Arabian Nights etc. Just going to cut to the chase on this one, favourite dark ride in the park. One of my favourites ever actually.

    Now I’m not saying it can rival Symbolica or anything that expensive and modern in the technical department. But, like Droomvlucht, the effects it uses are simple, effective and most importantly, they aren’t the only thing drawing your attention. The ride is tied together through themes of Arabian culture, from scenes of wealth and gluttony to poverty and torture. Everything seems to get progressively darker thanks to some more faaaantastic music and use of lighting and set pieces. The scenes are less ‘intense’ than the previous dark rides in that you have more time to fully digest each detail before you move into the next room. It’s just really, really good. You can tell it’s not new or particularly modern, but still, there’s just something about how everything comes together that is still genuinely impressive. I’ve never really heard what other people who have experienced Fata Morgana think of it - so please let me know if you agree or not!

    After a few more re-rides on some coasters and things (big pirate ship ;) ) we rushed through the fairytale forest in an effort to see the last few bits of the park whilst making our way to Aquanura, the end of day fountain show near the front of the park.

    I love how Efteling's characters all have an unusually disturbing facial expression.
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    Resting fish face.
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    The show was a fab ending to the day, a decent length and far more grandiose than I expected from Efteling. And there was fire! And more of the charming music.
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    Charming is generally a good way to describe Efteling, and my experience there. I was initially sceptical but I was won over almost as soon as I walked through the entrance. Maybe I was just lucky and came at the right time of year. But credit where its due, Efteling is a park that doesn’t rely on big rides, or even rides at all. It all relies on a feeling. And to be fair, there was no poor ride experience for me. Everything was of a high quality, even Symbolica, despite my mixed opinions. And that is why I rate this place, and am more than willing to come back and share experiences here with more friends and hopefully family too. It’s a park I think a wide range of people can enjoy for a variety of reasons.

    A thoroughly pleasing farewell, until next time.
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    But the story doesn’t quite end there. We journeyed over to Sevenum, in preparation for our visit to Toverland the next day. Turns out that the cheapest hotel we booked was this night. And after checking in, we were both chuffed to find out it was needle free!


    Also - free bottle of Merlot! I don’t usually drink wine but… go on then! There was also a bath and a separate shower in our en suite which was cool. Definitely the best budget hotel I’d been to. Worth a punt if you’re ever visiting Tover.

    Romantic.
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    Howie was chuffed with the wine!
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    And that was our first day wrapped up. Thanks for reading!
     
  2. SilverArrow

    SilverArrow Well-Known Member

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    Glad someone else likes Alrighthawk and Vogel too! Decent little coasters!
    I was strangely captivated by Fata Morgana's station when I went. I liked how they used a turntable for boats and how they were all pulled along on a rope. I don't know why I liked that about it but I did haha.
     
  3. Hixee

    Hixee Moderator Staff Member Moderator CF Award Winner 2016

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    Some excellent photos there!

    And an enjoyable report to accompany it. Good stuff!
     
  4. ThomVD

    ThomVD Well-Known Member

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    Even though I love Symbolica (it's a grower), I totally agree that Droomvlucht and Fata Morgana are better. They are two of my fave rides ever actually. If I had to make a top 3 Efteling rides, it would be those two and Joris.
     
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  5. Sandman

    Sandman Well-Known Member

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    Vogel is definitely one of the best because of the music and epic entrance. I just love the style of it!

    Joris & Fata Morgana are definitely my Efteling highlights in terms of rides. The whole park as a package just works so well though.

    Thanks man :) Toverland next, so expect the same report as Howie's just more babbling!
     
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  6. Sandman

    Sandman Well-Known Member

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    WEDNESDAY 11TH - TOVERLAND

    After a comfortable night’s sleep, it was time to make the long and arduous 4 minute journey to Toverland. Once again, we got the ‘quiet car park’ treatment. Excellent.

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    It had been a fair few years since my last visit to Toverland. My last experience was of a completely dead park, where most of the time was spent re-riding Troy, Booster Bike & Blitz Bahn. Dwervelwind & Djengu River weren’t there.

    Troy really secured itself as my favourite woodie thanks to that visit. It was my first introduction to what decent wooden coasters can do, my experience was previously limited to Blackpool’s tired relics. I think Howie was surprised by the severe lack of people. By the time we got to the forecourt, there were about 3 families stood beside the door.

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    As soon as the park opened 5 minutes later, we busted past the huge group of 7 and made our way onto the first ride, Boomerang. The operator had no need to wait around for others, the second we sat we were sent round twice. An easy cred there for Howie.

    Next, we made our way through into the second warehouse building, and had a little mooch around to get a good look at the place. The park isn’t that big of course, but we had ample time to kill here and Troy wouldn’t open till midday, so why not?

    We had a quick wander into the funhouse, which was… fun. Afterwards, it was time for a go on Blitz Bahn, one of my favourite rides out there. I sort of guessed that Howie had no idea about this ride, since he had not mentioned it and by the look on his face he hadn’t a clue what we were walking towards. I actually forgot how brilliant the queueline is, so lively and warm, even though it was completely dead. The ride experience was just as fun as I’d remembered, a really joyful experience. I’d be thrilled to get one of these at a UK park over a bad major investment any day! Howie’s reaction as he pulled into the station summed it up. He was pissing himself laughing for like 5 minutes after we left the area!

    Think we had 2 more re-rides later in the day. The second ride was at a more controlled speed due to a slow moving child, but the final ride was untarnished ;) More creds were due. The issue was that we had all this time (we had been in the park about 10 mins by now) and there were absolutely no queues. Oh well, I guess we better suck it up and re-ride everything.

    Next ride on the list was Booster Bike. Another empty train. 2 laps front row, 2 laps back row (although we made have done an additional lap). Still no f*cker wanting a ride. I feel sorry for the staff, they may as well be sat at home with a brew and a crossword. On the subject of staff, Toverland has brilliant staff. Probably my favourite theme park staff, but maybe that’s because the place is so quiet that it’s like they are your friends hanging out for the day.

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    Time I got a new cred then. 15-20 mins in, and the last time we saw other guests was when we were at the entrance before the park opened. I keep mentioning how dead it was and I shouldn’t be surprised as I’ve experienced it before. But this time it just seemed surreal. Essentially, the only time we would see a ride moving is when we were sat on it.

    Anybody?
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    Dwervelwind was no different. Hence why you will see no photos of the train on this thing. It sure does blend in well with the relaxing/quiet ambience of the park. Shades of Efteling, for sure.

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    The station looks lovely. And there’s some exported Efteling mist to accompany that loveliness. We greeted the lonely operator who dispatched us promptly. And then the onboard audio began to play and we made our way up the lift hill. What followed was actually a pretty mad little coaster. There were lots of forces hitting us from different angles as we twisted around like nobody’s business. It’s a good job it’s fairly short, or you’d start to feel that post-ride grogginess a bit too distinctly. I thought it was a very enjoyable ride, and we managed another 4 or 5 re-rides to round it off!

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    Each time, we’d try and be in the seat that goes backward up the lift, but we never actually managed it! We’d either start front or back facing, but as soon as we left the station we’d always turn to the bloody front. Just our luck. Really cool ride though, with a good variation of force and experience depending on where you sit.

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    Time for another wander, this time around the back section of the park. Had a little peek over at the mudstruction, which looked pretty muddy. I love the artwork though.

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    And then we nipped the water rides in the bud. The log flume isn’t too bad, my favourite bit is of course the weird turntable. Djengu River was more significant a rapids than I anticipated from Toverland. Really fun. Not the wettest or most violent, but very suitable for the park and environment it is in.

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    Midday arrived and we had still not been on another ride at the same time as any of the other 12 or so people in the park. But I think everyone mutually agreed it was time for some wood.

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    Today we wouldn’t be riding Troy: The Ride. This was Destroy: The Ride.
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    Action shot.
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    I’d heard this thing was getting a bit rougher with age, which I hoped wasn’t true. Joris had been on point, so now I had a valid point of reference for rating Troy today. I think we got 5 or 6 rides on this. And it was fantastic! Not rough at all, still whips you around at a great pace, brilliant first drop, and the turns are nice and snappy. Although the overbanks slow the pace at moments, I think they are good moments to break up the low to ground action. Still my favourite woodie, although Joris has the better theme and surrounding ambience. You can’t knock the Troy music though, can you? Troy!

    Thumbs up for station fly-through.
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    We decided to finish up early, once we were satisfied with our visit and ride count (which was already massive after a few hours). Back when I was a bit younger, I’d find it baffling to leave a dead park when there are still a good amount of hours to re-ride. But nowadays, I’d rather leave on a high than oversaturate the experience. Same with creds etc, I don’t mind being spited by something a bit :emoji_poop: if the rest of the experience makes up for it.

    And that’s how I’ll sum up Toverland. It’s a park you really shouldn’t spend all day at. To me, it still feels like a ‘nip in & out’ kind of park, but a very, very good one. It’s growing, and I think we all appreciate that. I really do rate the place, it’s got a solid selection of coasters and memorable rides, unrivalled by any park of it’s size. And you can tell it’s loved by it’s owner. Exactly what you want and respect as an enthusiast.

    If you've read Howie's report, you'll wonder what on Earth I was laying on the floor for in one of his photos - I was unsuccessfully attempting to get the full horse in frame for a pic.

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    After a great time at Toverland, we made our way out of the sleepy Dutch suburbs and towards Germany to join the stressful pile-up of traffic coming out of Cologne. Luckily this juggler did some juggling to elevate the spirits of pissed off drivers. I don’t think it worked though.

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    We got a glimpse of the city (+1 culture) from afar, as we pushed on through to our ibis budget.

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    Luckily from this point on, we had beer and then some of the CF crew turned up to keep us company for a bit. So, another fab day ticked off.
     
  7. Howie

    Howie Well-Known Member

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    Tell you what Sandman, your photos are sooooo much better than my piss-poor attempts. Bravo!
     
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  8. Hixee

    Hixee Moderator Staff Member Moderator CF Award Winner 2016

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    ^I want to agree, but also not insult your photos. ;) What are you shooting with @Sandman (just for my own curiosity)?

    Good report, it's funny to see the same day reported in different styles - I quite like it. :p
     
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  9. Sandman

    Sandman Well-Known Member

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    I think Howie is just being vain because he's in a lot of these photos ;) haha! But thanks man, glad you like them... let's hope the rest come out okay (still not looked yet).

    Hixee - I use the original Ricoh GR model, a very nice compact camera with a wide range of qualities. Not too expensive now 'cause people opt for the GR II.
     
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  10. Sandman

    Sandman Well-Known Member

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    THURSDAY 12TH - PHANTASIALAND

    ibis views
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    It’s not very difficult to wake up early when you know you’re going to your favourite theme park. It had been a while since I’d visited Phantasialand, admittedly, but when Howie first mentioned it in his trip plan I was basically sold.

    We booked to stay the night in Matamba, which would mean my first run-in with one of Phantasialand’s on-site hotels. I was very excited to see Matamba properly and enjoy a good wind down after what I hoped would be an intense day on park. But let’s not rush things.

    After the hotel desk faff, we made a beeline for Ling Bao, which is obviously the superior hotel of the two. Maybe some people will vehemently disagree with that statement, but I think there’s a noticeable difference in quality even on first impression. Matamba doesn’t look particularly exotic from the outside street, but inside it’s lovely, vibrant and comfortable. But Ling Bao looks entirely impressive firstly from the exterior and then upon entry. Everything in there feels way beyond necessary. There’s very distinctive scents across each main room, perfectly detailed interior design, and fountains (can’t forget the fountains!). Marching through to the gardens felt badass. I think I mentioned to Howie that I felt like I was in Kill Bill. A few quick points to round off the Matamba hotel review then:

    Comfy bed, clean room and the fluffy carpet in the corridor was the icing on the cake. 8/10

    Anyway, we stood around the fantastic gardens at the back of Ling Bao impatiently waiting for the park to open. I basically chain smoked whilst Howie kept a lookout for any sign of incoming staff. Didn’t take long and we were in, and I tried to navigate us to the Berlin entrance to meet the others without walking past Taron and spoiling our first view.

    Ling Bao
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    I like these quiet park days
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    Once everyone grouped together, we went and got Maus Au Chocolat out of the way. I say “out of the way” like it’s a cheap bit of filler, but it’s actually a really fun ride. Of course it is, this is Phantasialand.

    Speaking of fun rides, the decision was made to get the ‘slightly less fun’ rides out of the way (ahem, Hollywood, Alrighthawk). We waited a few minutes longer for Wuze Town to open and managed to smash both Winja’s in a pretty efficient fashion. Again, a great couple of rides as is standard here. I’ll skim over the next 2 rides then. Alrighthawk was alright. Obviously after the selection of coasters experienced at Efteling & Toverland in the previous days, it seemed pretty meh. But mehhawk doesn’t really work. And after Efteling’s selection of dark rides, Hollywood is like having a bad trip in a wax museum.

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    Someone thought it would be a good idea to do both Chiapas and River Quest back to back. In October! Well, the sun was coming out so I guess we had no excuses. Off we went on Chiapas first.

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    There I was, just pleasantly enjoying the ride, and then boom. First drop, my shoes get absolutely drenched. The rest of me, completely dry. So annoying! Wet shoes are definitely the worst. Chiapas is lovely though, but I do echo what some people have said about it needing a bit more to look at, maybe another set-piece like the disco section or something. It’s definitely the nicest looking water ride I’ve seen off-ride, that’s for sure.

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    Then came River Quest. From the moment our big Ghosterforce filled boat departed and the music sounded, all eyes turned to the newbies. Howie and Rachel didn’t have a clue. Up into the elevator and the music built up. Everyone was itching to see who would take the brunt of the first big hit. I actually think it was me? Sod it, my shoes were already soaked. The same urgency was later repeated at the whirlpool section, as the Ghosterboat span, everybody braced for the inevitable. At one point I saw Chris get some serious airtime. Definitely one of my favourite water rides out there, you can’t beat a brute force thrill ride combined with an immense soaking. It’s very much an endurance test.

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    The group regathered afterwards outside Mystery Castle, otherwise known as “what’s that smell?”. We pretty much walked straight on and got the short cycle, which I didn’t particularly mind. A few of us also managed a re-ride later in the day, where the cycle was a bit longer but still felt fairly short. Still, a good ride made great by the theme.

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    By this point, the Taron fever had kicked in. Some of us hotel ERT lot were undecided as to whether we’d wait until the night rides, but even by this point, we had waited long enough. Plus, those who weren’t staying at the hotel had limited whoring time.

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    Entering Klugheim for the first time was exciting. It’s definitely one of my favourite theme park/area landscapes. Phantasialand have created an absolute visual feast. There are so many places to look, so many little details that have been nailed down to a tee. The craftsmanship is brilliant. I’m surprised by how much effort has actually gone on the buildings around the area. Then there’s the fab rockwork and cobbled paths. Nothing beats the immersiveness of the small winding paths leading through tunnels and across bridges. The music is also a major mood setter, and really brings the area to life.

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    We waited around 20 minutes for our first ride on Taron. I opted for front row and was sat next to Christopher. Once we left the station, my nerves kicked in. Had the hype machine gone into overdrive? Time to find out.

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    Lap 1 on Taron then. Fantastic. I didn’t have much of a detailed impression at this point, everything was a bit of a blur. But a great blur. The first launch was memorable and surprisingly forceful. Lots of nice nippy turns and maybe 3 solid moments of airtime. Epic second launch, then some more nice fast nippy turns. Not mindblown, I thought, but the daytime ride was counted as a mere “warm up”. Still, very, very good. We’ll come back to this later.

    Think we all went for food after Taron. I opted for 2 meals, firstly some currywurst with bread and then a krakauer. Both tasty. Even the wasps agreed!

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    Our next ride was Colorado Adventure, which is my favourite mine train out there and one of my favourite family coasters. The indoor sections are fab. I kinda wish they had some onboard audio or something to really ramp up the experience. Another fantastic addition to the park regardless.

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    Then we ventured deep into Africa. It was time to ride one of my favourite B&M coasters. It has been a while since I’ve been on both Black Mamba and Nemesis, but I’ve always seen them as close relatives and thus, difficult to separate in terms of ranking. I tend to give Nemesis the edge, due to the layout which is slightly shorter and sweeter. There is also some nostalgia attached, as is cliche for many UK enthusiasts.

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    On this particular ride though, I thought it was an even tougher call. We opted for front row, and got a really solid run. The unspoiled view at the front really does enhance Mamba, and most inverts in my opinion. Particularly on Mamba though, because of how tight knit some of the valleys and troughs are. It’s a very claustrophobic environment, which works excellently with the many tight turns featured across the layout. That’s where it manages to outdo Nemesis for me. There’s also something incredibly impressive and unnerving about how well hidden the coaster is. The fact you only can see very small sections at a time and nothing else is an excellent way to build suspense prior to riding. I love walking through the area knowing this badass coaster is all around me, but I can’t see it. I can just hear distant rumbles and occasional screams from varying angles. Still one of my favourites.

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    It was time to reunite with my currywurst once more.
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    Talocan was as fierce as ever. Pretty good cycle with plenty of spin, fire and water. And because it was so quiet, we got forward facing, which is obviously the best side to sit. I think we all “enjoyed” Talocan. It’s (surprise, surprise) another one of my favourite rides.

    As the day came to a close, we decided to lighten the mood with a go on the funhouse. Then it was back over to Taron for our final ride with some of the group before they left for the evening. I honestly can’t remember which row or seat I was in for the 2nd go, but what I do remember is that it was noticeably faster and more forceful. And this set up my anticipation for the ERT later in the evening.

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    Taron Night Rides (aka the bit where I didn't take any photos)

    Once the park started closing and our group dispersed, Howie and I darted off to Matamba to officially “check-in” to our room, which led to a bit of a faff rushing around the hotel corridors trying to find the room in good time. We then paced back over to Ling Bao and followed the lovely launch/fart sounds.

    We bumped into Rachel & Dan, who were already on their first or second lap of Taron (we were a couple of mins late to the party ourselves). Luckily there weren’t many hotel guests around and our turn came once the next train arrived. It wasn’t quite dark by this point but luckily it didn’t matter yet, Taron was running incredibly well. After a couple of laps we also caught up with Phillippe, Emily and Dr.Dave, yet somehow didn’t manage to get on the same train as any other CF’er for a good 5-6 laps. The timing was weird and all of us were so impatient that we didn’t actually wait for each other. I tell you what though, on one of our last rides we all managed to get on the same train towards the back. It was one of my favourite rides on a coaster ever. This was as it got pretty dark around Klugheim whilst the sky was still lit up bright orange from the sunset. What a moment that was, Team Taron!

    I was pretty gutted when the hour ERT was over. Could have easily sat on that thing for another hour, no problems. Initially I was going to write up in more detail what makes this ride so good, but I think that my review won’t do that justice. No review can do it justice really, it’s just epic. Everybody needs a night ride on Taron, I mean literally everybody!

    So, Taron (at night) is my new number 1. I can’t really see it the same in the day, the thing was built for the night. I’m half tempted to consider it a dark ride. Find it tough to split Taron (day) and Shambhala, so it’s a very mood based situation going on there.

    After we all reluctantly left Klugheim, we finished off the evening with a pretty tasty meal at the Bamboo restaurant in Matamba followed by a swift couple of pints at the Dragon Bar in Ling Bao, which I thought was a really nice venue. And after our third fantastic day in a row, I was properly knackered for the first time so far on this trip.

    And that sums up another excellent visit to Phantasialand. The place is littered with memorable rides and experiences. It’s not as charming or quaint as, say, Efteling. And I loved Efteling a lot. But does Efteling have Taron, Black Mamba, Chiapas, River Quest, Talocan or Mystery Castle? Nah. And I’m a sucker for that highly concentrated “over the top” thrill package that Phantasia has going on. The best thing is that it'll only get better. Still my favourite park.

    2 parks to go!
     
    Mysterious Sue, zazobo, Howie and 3 others like this.
  11. Hixee

    Hixee Moderator Staff Member Moderator CF Award Winner 2016

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    Cracking review of Phantasialand! Accompanied by some lovely pictures - good work!
     
  12. Sandman

    Sandman Well-Known Member

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    Cheers Hix! Was nice to get back to the place. Think I'll be revisiting as soon as possible, especially if they keep that Hotel ERT offer going ;)
     
  13. Howie

    Howie Well-Known Member

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    Oh that's just excellent trip reporting good Sir! I especially liked the use of the word 'Ghosterboat'.
    That bit where we were all too impatient to wait for each other - chasing ourselves round and round the Taron queue - funny!
    Lovely pictures too.
     
  14. Sandman

    Sandman Well-Known Member

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    Cheers Dave, that Taron ERT was so good! I need to be back there now.
     

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