The opening of Taron at Phantasialand resonated particularly strongly with me this year. Aside from the almost unprecedented levels of theming that looked to be going into such a high thrill attraction, the park decided to stake out the claim of ‘fastest multi-launch coaster in Europe’, taking the title from my favourite ride in the world, Helix, who never claimed to care about such trivialities.
It demanded to be checked out and a trip was promptly planned around it, flying into Amsterdam and picking up a few new parks and rides along the way.
Day 1 – Drievliet
Our first stop was this unassuming Dutch park, hidden away in what mostly resembles an industrial estate. We initially parked on the wrong side of the grounds, getting stuck behind a fence and staring in at a wild mouse ride in confusion. With some further guidance, we drove back around the perimeter, through some iron gates and across loose tarmac into the actual car park.
It was a whirlwind tour of the park once we finally managed to step foot inside, as we had other places to be the same day.
The first thing we came to was Twistrix, an unconventional Maurer spinner with a train of cars rather than their usual single 4 seaters. It’s a little on the small side and this results on not much of anything happening, but it’s a different experience at least.
The star attraction here is undoubtedly this Maurer X-Car. Though a short ride, it manages to pack a surprising amount of fun into a small footprint by use of a quick launch and many unconventionally shaped elements that weave around each other. It never quite gets intense at any point, but the forces it provides are certainly interesting. If anyone needed a good gateway coaster into the world of inversions, this would probably be my most recommended.
The wild mouse we were staring at from the outside earlier is called Kopermijn, the 3rd and final Maurer coaster in the park. Very standard stuff, nothing to report.
Dynamite Express is a Mack powered coaster, bucking the loyalty trend. Again nothing out of the ordinary here, another good family ride.
And with that, the park was complete. Certainly worth the visit for Formule X but otherwise entirely unremarkable in the grand scheme of things. I’m not sure they can do a whole lot to improve anything either, seemingly being rather landlocked by their inelegant surroundings.
We soon hit the road again to what was billed to be the more significant park of the day.
Our first impressions of the place weren’t great, entering through what can only be described as a warehouse. The website would have you believe they were marketing themselves as a fantastic fairytale of a park, like a smaller Efteling, which is a dangerous comparison to draw upon.
Within this warehouse was cred number 1 – Boomerang. Thankfully it isn’t an actual boomerang, but a custom Vekoma junior. It was surprisingly rough for the size but otherwise inoffensive.
As you move into the outdoor section of the park, things begin to look a little nicer.
The area surrounding the front half of their GCI woodie is nicely themed. The queue leads you into the centre of the structure and then up the stairs into the loading gates, where the exhilarating fly-through portion of the track can be witnessed – a train loudly bursting through the upper half of the station and scaring the anticipating next riders.
Troy was my 200th rollercoaster and though a solid package, it did leave a little to be desired. It’s fast paced throughout and rides with the slightly rough and ready vigour that all good wooden coasters should do, but my main issue lies in the fact that there are no standout moments whatsoever. Previous experience with GCIs had shown me that they can have unpredictable forces in their strangely shaped corner transitions and their generally twisty layouts often favour this type of sensation over any more traditional airtime. Troy lacked either of those things and while I can’t say it was a bad ride by any means, I have no way of really defending it either.
A ride I can comfortably say is bad is the Vekoma motocoaster. Getting into the motorbike seats is difficult and the resultant riding position is just hard to enjoy, with your back bent over by an awkward lump of a restraint that keeps pushing against you and any force on the ride only enhancing the discomfort.
The Mack spinner was much better. The fairytale aspect of the park finally shines through in the intricate station for this ride and some onboard audio in the trains makes it even more enjoyable.
In terms of the coaster itself, the spinning was a little unpredictable. Over our three laps, we only had one in which the rotation properly got going and the ride got particularly enjoyable and intense because of it. The times that the cars didn’t spin so much, it did feel like it was holding back from its otherwise good layout.
With all the creds done for the day, we had a late lunch in the indoor section before queuing for Maximum Blitz Bahn. The ride is a Bobkart – a single seater vehicle in a trough track, externally powered like a dodgem car that the rider is able control, to an extent, throughout the layout.
What makes this one stand out is the incredible theming in the queue. Strong smells, an incredible attention to detail and wacky contraptions line the tightly enclosed pathway and far outweigh the actual ride experience, which due to throughput was stopping me from going full speed at any point and therefore competing with the ‘best times of the day’ board at the end.
I liked Toverland enough. It had a decent set of attractions, nothing outstanding. There are some signs here and there that show a good effort towards being the type of park they appear to be aiming for, but there’s still a fair amount of work to be done to make it more cohesive.