Ride Review – Baron 1898
On my first trip to Efteling, this ride was nearing the final stages of being built. They certainly weren’t afraid to show it off to everyone and get them excited for what was coming to the park – not a construction fence in sight.
It excited me too, though I wasn’t a local. This was a time in my life when B&M were the most consistent manufacturer I had come across and from what I had already experienced that day, I was sure Efteling could produce something really special.
A couple of years later I was back in the Netherlands and of course took the opportunity to see how things had turned out, soon finding myself standing in the queue that was once mud.
The area that the ride lives in is wonderfully presented and fits right in with the overwhelming aesthetic and charm of the park. Drawing strongly on their experience with Vliegande Hollander, theming becomes the most dominating part of the attraction and Baron takes it a step further by even having it’s own preshow – something very few coasters do.
This is also a good time to mention that there was an extensive soundtrack composed for the ride, which I always admire, but in this particular instance none of the melodies have ever really stuck with me, unlike certain attractions.
In Efteling style, the preshow tells a tale of the Baron himself, the opening of his gold mine and the Witte Wieven that haunts it. Now the scene has been set, guests move into the station to board the Dive Coaster trains which are to be your mine cars. You’re now a part of the story.
The train pulls out of the station into another room, where impressive projections and physical effects continue the story. Trouble is afoot, the ride can begin.
It’s hard for me to feel intimidated now in these comfy B&M seats as they ascend the lift hill. At the summit, the signature holding brake of the ride type dangles you over a misty pit.
The train releases and you plummet down the near vertical drop into the ground below. Baron is comparatively tiny for a dive coaster, not quite reaching 100ft off the floor and it shows here in that the defining moment of the ride is not as effective at launching you out of your seat or providing the sustained sense of freefall that I would have expected. The pull out of the drop is almost instantaneous.
With your face full of sweet mist, the ride navigates two consecutive inversions that are pulled off rather nicely, before entering a helix that seemingly serves no real purpose other than to burn a bit of speed. Moments like this in a layout do bother me as, with my mindset, it just feels like wasted potential.
The final element is a slight airtime hill that is somewhat satisfying and you hit the brakes far sooner than expected.
While solid fun as a coaster, there was nothing truly spectacular about it. The theming remains the most prevalent feature of the experience, which I’m fine with, but it could have been something really special if the hardware had lived up to it.
I can only assume they were erring on the side of family thrill to suit the park as a whole, which makes the choice of ride type seem a little unusual – other than for the look and to fit the narrative.
Dive coasters by original design were to be dominating, powerful and scary, the prototype literally being themed to fear. It’s refreshing to see one used in a different way, but it didn’t quite meet my expectations on all fronts.