Europe 09/21 – Duinrell, Hellendoorn + De Waarbeek
There’s a handful of Dutch parks we keep meaning to visit but, for whatever reason (including not being allowed in last year), they never quite happen. This was the day to change all that, for better or worse.
Day 18 – Duinrell
Duinrell lost out to Drievliet last time we were in the immediate vicinity, it couldn’t compete with just a trio of clones, but turns out it’s a lovely place.
We began on the brown one, #1 Kikkerachtbaan, a Zierer Tivoli Large with unusual concrete troughs and signature frog train.
Then rode the brown one, #2 Dragonfly, a highly competent Gerstlauer family coaster with an impressively senior ride op. If I work when I’m old, this is the gig for me.
Lastly it was the turn of the brown one, #3 Falcon, also known as Rage.
It didn’t quite pop as much as Rage, though it does look a lot nicer. Love the frog in the plane.
Beautiful park, but all too easy. Pro tip – parking is free if you manage to be in and out within an hour, which we did, in no hurry at all.
I was rather hoping that Hellendoorn would be in the same sort of league. It was not.
The stones on #4 Donderstenen amuse me, but it was in our first queue that we noticed a significant presence of school trips on park. Children in various hi-vis colours were persistently attempting to queue jump everyone and everything, clambering over railings and some rather grim temporary covid barriers that had been erected. It fell to one hero in the queue, a man trying to enjoy a day out with his son, to stand his ground and put a stop to this as the lone operator was simply unable to.
Kids will be kids I guess, oh well.
We next joined the queue for Discovery Club, a dark ride I had been rather looking forward to.
In complete contrast to the vague attempt at covid control on the last ride, this one auto batches you through a revolving metal gate to then leave you standing in an extremely cramped corridor and then narrow set of stairs, packed wall to wall with loud, screaming children, running up and down.
There was a member of school staff here, though all they managed to do was actively encourage them to be as loud as possible by initiating various chants and rhythms through banging on the walls. This went on for at least 20 minutes, the line barely moving, while we were barely able to hear ourselves think, let alone have a conversation. Once again, a single member of staff on ride obviously had no time to intervene.
Putting all that aside for the briefest of moments, the ride was nice, one of those rarer interactive shooters with the rotating cars and seats facing outwards in 4 directions. There’s tons of little details and trinkets in the scenery, which is comprised of an endless collection of artifacts, though the movements of a certain few seem to be getting a little tired.
If we thought that was bad, try #5 Rioolrat. The covid barriers were back, though falling apart and interestingly held together by graffiti, driftwood and chewing gum. Yet more children were out in full force, literally shaking the barriers to pieces, banging on them, causing them to collapse onto other guests and frankly being quite dangerous.
There was also a member of school staff here, sitting on a fence looking at his phone and making no attempt to stir up any peace. Yet again it fell to other paying guests who were visibly disgusted by the situation to make a vain attempt to control it. Yet again there was zero park staff presence, another automatic barrier forms the outdoor batch point and just one person operates the ride, deep inside the themed building.
This went on for a ridiculous amount of time, no less than 40 minutes for a queue of no more than 100 bodies and I don’t even know why. Once finally inside, you have to navigate some slippery stairs with a waterfall and some sewer tunnels with a very Raptor Attack vibe. It would have been quite cool but we were having one of the worst days at a theme park imaginable by this point.
The ride sucked, even for a Vekoma junior in the dark. I thought you were cool, Rioolrat.
We were so done with the park by this point. Just one more cred to bear, a stupid Vekoma looper, and then we can leave, never to return.
Walked over to it. It was closed.
I know school trips aren’t a park specific or specific park problem, but I feel an establishment like this should at least be prepared for the situation by having a little more staff presence at critical points such as the queue lines of their two major operating attractions.
Failing that, there is a practice within the industry to publicly advertise on your website calendar as to which days are due to have school trips, allowing guests to factor this into their decision on when to visit. We certainly weren’t alone in feeling unable to even enjoy the day here, every other family or group of adults were clearly not having a good day time and I feel more sorry for them – park visits are two a penny to me, but can obviously mean a lot to others.
In all fairness to the park, they have since admitted fault and invited us back next year. They had the cheek (or at least their automated system did) to send us a survey asking ‘how was your visit?🙃’ the very next day. We responded of course in an honest and constructive (as per the above), but sometimes brutal manner. Fast forward a few weeks and the eventual reply stated that they completely agreed with absolutely everything we said, it was a massive issue for them and they were making plans to do something about it.
Couldn’t end it on that note though.
Things couldn’t be more different here as we became one of only a handful of cars in the car park for their last hour of operation.
Back to tranquil, forest parks with not an ugly barrier, or guest, in sight.
Their star attraction of course is old #6 Rodelbaan, claiming to be the oldest steel coaster in the world (though RCDB appears to believe otherwise). They even let us know that fact before pushing the despatch button. It’s definitely good for its age, a fun little ground hugging layout that loves to interact with all the surroundings and has a few satisfying humps up its sleeve.
They’ve also managed to keep hold of a bonus travelling cred for an extra season, #7 Gold Mine Express, a ride that was once Mini-Lynet at Fårup Sommerland. Actually it goes one better than that. It was Lynet, until they built Lynet.
Regardless, +2. Another great little park that was an overwhelmingly positive experience to end the day on.