Belgium + Netherlands 10/19 – Bobbejaanland + Walibi Holland
The opening of Untamed at Walibi Holland was very exciting news for Europe and a perfect reason to put together another quick jaunt across the channel. The continent hasn’t had many RMCs yet and seeing a couple more start to appear feels almost overdue now. Of course I had to make the itinerary a little more hectic, cos that’s how I roll. Results may vary.
Did another stupidly early start for the chunnel (<03:00) in order to get to the first park of the day at opening time. Which worked perfectly.
And that was the end of the success.
Bobbejaanland: The Revenge
I had beef with Bobbejaanland. I came here a few years ago on a busy summers day, on which they decided to reduce their opening hours on the spot and then close queues up to an hour sooner than those newly stated opening hours, leaving it to be one of the few parks, perhaps only, that I simply didn’t complete in time.
The rides that I did do, sucked, hard.
But this new one looks quite nice.
So I was with the masses heading to Fury as the gates opened, got to the entrance in amongst the first 10 people.
To then stand there for an hour, as for some unadvertised reason they didn’t open this ride or Typhoon until 11, so it felt like a bit of a waste of an early start. Queuing an hour to beat the queue.
They’ve changed the quirky voting system on whether the ride goes forwards or backwards from how it was originally set up so that there’s now a split in the station for ‘I definitely want forwards’ or ‘I want to vote’.
I was dead set on getting a backwards ride on my first lap, as I believed it would offer the best experience when totally unexpected, not knowing the layout or what it had to offer.
It didn’t look like it was going to work out as I was the only one in my row to push the button to vote backwards, but the train hit the turntable and turned left. Yes! I punched the air. There was no reaction at all from anyone else sadly.
That launch is pretty punchy isn’t it.
Have to say the ride wasn’t quite what I wanted out of it. I’m on a bit of a high with my Infinities at the moment and this just wasn’t delivering on the same level of interesting sensations.
Backwards was a lot of fun, quite disorientating, but lacked anything really standout or substantial. It just feels like even a single strong kick of airtime somewhere would have given it the edge to go from good to great. Failing that, the final spike could have done something crazy like Mystic to end the ride on a high instead of just being a bit of a vibe killer.
I do like what they’ve done with the new area themed to legends. Typhoon doesn’t deserve to be a legend even with a fresh lick of blue paint, but at least it doesn’t look like a fairground ride any more and it’s a nice idea to have a circular hub of pathway with several ride entrances coming off of it.
While I was waiting away the first hour for that to open, the park had had a chance to fill up a bit, meaning Naga Bay had a bit of a queue. I did it when it was called Dizz and it was weak, so skipped it this time.
We got as far as the stairs in the queueline of Revolution on the previous visit before a ton of guests came spilling back down the queue towards us saying it was closed and making Xs with their arms. This time we walked straight on, past all the Virtual Reality faff and got to admire what appears to be the world’s longest roller coaster train.
It’s a silly ride but quite funny. A massive indoor spiral lift leaves you thinking where’s the actual ride section? Then it slithers through a gap in the wall at the top and you do several drops and ~100 left hand turns through a narrow outer shell of the building while strobes go off and make it seem like you’re travelling really fast.
Speedy Bob was another ride that got closed in our face half an hour early last visit. They were running it alright today and the ride itself rode butter smooth, almost unnervingly so.
The park was now complete. Only took me 3 years.
Walked past Dreamcatcher. Don’t need that in my life again, let alone with VR added.
Gave Oki Doki (formerly Belgium’s best rollercoaster) a token lap. It has a good little first drop and a refreshing layout.
Did El Paso Special/Bench the Ride(?) There’s several bench rides I’ve done now and I don’t know one is the notorious one.
The guns were potentially the most responsive of their type I had ever come across, which was impressive. The scenery was dated but amusing. Lots of donkeys, no hats.
Also gave Bob Express a token lap. It had a couple more weirdly shaped bits of track and random kicks to it than I remember. It could have done alright in my extensive rank the mine train list, if only it tried a bit harder to be a mine train.
So dogs are allowed on?
Did a forwards facing ride on Fury and pretty much felt the same about it.
Tried for another backwards on the last go, but the system screwed me over. I had a whole row of people pushing backwards this time, then it turned right. Aww.
I think it’s a bit of a cop out that they changed it to be honest, though I am personally glad I didn’t have to stay in the park any longer than planned just to beat the odds and get a taste of each direction if other guests were being particularly fussy about it.
The car park is here dumb and has no way to flow out in the middle of the day so you have to do an amazing reverse while people are still trying to come in for the first time. Still don’t really like this place. Next?
Walibi was the next stop, and should have been a 2 hour drive.
It actually took over 4 hours because they had decided to close an entire motorway between the two countries, terrible detours occurred, then there was an accident and more terrible detours occurred. It was horrible. I felt every second of it eating into my riding time.
The mood didn’t lighten as I hit the roundabout at the entrance to the park, Lost Gravity theme blaring from my speakers to try and get me in the mood. Temporary yellow signs were up directing everyone to park in a field opposite, rather than the usual car park. The detour to get to this field went on for far too long, across several unpleasant surfaces. I do resent when I’ve been charged by a park for the privilege of parking on grass/mud.
An ugly temporary bridge was set up over the road and all the entrance plaza was all funnelled by a long series of 8ft high crowd control barriers, which also looked terrible.
Things didn’t improve inside as cutting through the first indoor section of the park was like walking into a nightclub. This place used to have a certain charm to it, but they seem to have embraced the Thorpe Park youth vibe that in reality no one actually wants to experience.
I don’t remember that top spin looking that ugly, Merlin’s castle looks dumb now it’s covered in graffiti and what the hell is this new area?
Oh yeah, that.
Here comes RMC number 10.
I was very happy to see it, but the mood still didn’t lighten as i joined the single rider queue. The water feature out of the middle of the station leaks all over the floor and you have to wade across to the stairs. As soon as I settled in for the wait, 3 blokes join behind me and instantly start smoking directly into my face. This was the trend in pretty much every queue, all night. Ugh.
This may end up sounding a bit negative (what, like the rest of the day so far?), but obviously it’s an RMC and it’s still easily one of best things out there. My top 25 will shortly be adjusted to acknowledge this.
I don’t know whether I should do this one as a blow by blow description of elements or just some overall thoughts. Normally I save the former for something I really fall for and this one just didn’t quite resonate with me.
So let’s put the picky hat on, because I expect perfection from these things nowadays.
It has noticeably weak moments and sections:
The first drop and speed hill are weak, compared to others.
I don’t really dig the first inversion thing. It’s different yes, but it doesn’t do much of anything to the rider. It simply happens around you.
Each of the turnaround sections just aren’t particularly exciting, this inversion is meh and that sideways thing only really works if you’re in the front of the train to get a bit of a kick into it.
What I love is basically the whole second half:
The triple humpy bit that just keeps on giving.
The insane hill section through the structure where everything incoming is well disguised.
The crazy sharp S-bend slither into my favourite of the inversions, which also somehow manages to give you airtime coming out of it.
A mixed bag overall then. Some stuff I love in there, but many bits that just don’t flow well or keep the standard at top level throughout. It never truly kicked my ass with intensity at any particular point and it never gave me that life-affirming moment of contemplation on the brakerun, though I can appreciate that it’s a mighty fine ride.
Talking of mighty fine rides. Ahhhhhhh.
For some reason over the last few years I kept doubting myself on how good I thought Lost Gravity was when it opened.
But no, I am right, it’s stupidly fun.
The first drop and speed hill combo is miles better than Untamed, the middle section is really quirky and enjoyable and then there’s a couple more hills at the end that just shouldn’t be that strong in force. Also it has flamethrowers.
Goliath is the only other ride I did that night and it just doesn’t hold up any more.
It’s like a refined version of that stupid Superman one – 90% corners but at least the airtime actually works consistently. Entertaining, but had its day.
I had to pass through 3 scare zones when bouncing between these rides.
I’m no Halloween event expert, but here’s my thoughts anyway:
The tree one by Untamed – A combination of moss monsters with rattles and people dressed like Valka from How To Train Your Dragon 2. Mostly an inconvenience because everyone just stands still in the middle of it with their phones out filming.
Villains(?) – Some villainous looking actors and a small stage where they could stand and creep on guests. Mostly an inconvenience because everyone just stands still in the middle of it with their phones out filming.
The pirate one – I quite liked it. Some nice purple mood lighting, good spooky pirate music and lots of bubbles filled with smoke floating around the area. Actors dressed like pirates, walking like zombies.
But I wasn’t there for that stuff, I was there for Untamed – night rides in particular. That section through the structure is completely in the dark, disorientating and amazing.
Had a few laps with a few painfully long queues. The single rider never worked very well even though they had broken 1 seat on the back of one of the trains which you would think would guarantee a spot every cycle.
Some questionable operations occurred – a group of about 9 people in the main queue started kicking off because they had split up from 2 friends who were in the single rider queue and had actually beaten them to the station.
The proper response to this should be ‘The system doesn’t guarantee a shorter queue mate.’
The actual response? “You make a good point, let ’em through lads.”
When it came to closing the queue, a couple of people that had just managed to make it inside before the staff could chain off the entrance were actually chased down and kicked out – which seemed a bit off/Phantasialand-esque.
So I got what I wanted out of the day, just not in ideal circumstances and Walibi Holland as a park took a massive blow for me.
And that was before the car park happened.
I was kinda expecting it, as getting in to the place was such a faff, but as I cleared the bridge on the way out, hell on earth came into view. A million cars in mud at all angles all trying to merge with each other and leave, completely unable to go anywhere. Horns were going off constantly like a New York traffic jam with everyone shouting and being aggressive.
Luckily, being a late arriver, I was in the left third of the field which is split by 2 routes coming out.
The middle and right thirds were the ones converging, so getting as far as the tarmac was comparatively easy for me. From there it was a slow crawl of at least another hour along the winding back path and out onto the main road.
There’s gotta be a better way to end the day.