Europe 09/21 – Efteling
I’d been exicited about a return visit to Efteling from the very moment I left the park after my first ever visit in 2016. The park had left a great impression on me and I immediately rated it as one of my favourite parks in the World.
Today’s return visit however wouldn’t feel anywhere near as impressive as before, thanks mostly to a lack of maintenance and a rather impressive decline in staff quality, the park felt far less special and magical than it had 5 years before.
The day did start very strong though with our first ever rides on the brand new (to us) Symbolica.
In a park home to 2 of the best dark rides ever built, they have managed to best both with this incredible, massive, trackless dark ride around the Palace of Fantasy. In fact, I’m feeling bold enough to say that, hands down, Symbolica is now the best ride in the park
Like the other 2 outstanding dark ride offerings from the park (Droomvlucht & Fata Morgana), to attempt to explain the experience would do it a massive disservice. I think therefore it would be better to say, my first ride through on Symbolica I wasn’t able to take anything in because I was that awestruck by what I witnessing and on all my re-rides I was never not blown away by how awesome the experience is. If none of that made any sense, is it good? It’s good.
It would upset me (slightly) to learn after my return home that a few rather important effects that the ride opened with were not in operation on my visit. These missing effects may have made the difference from Symbolica being considered one of the best dark rides in the World and it actually being the best dark ride in the World. This was just the beginning of Efteling’s attractions missing effects today but it bothers me more that they are already letting their new star attraction fade away.
Droomvlucht was next and I’m so happy to report that even after 5 years of travelling the World riding some of the best dark rides out there, Efteling’s suspended offering into a World of fantasy is still one of the very best. It’s just a shame some of the effects weren’t working…
Then it was time to visit Hugo over at Villa Volta.
Unlike Droomvlucht, time, and the existence of the always incredible Hex at Alton Towers, have made me rather jaded of the once pretty awesome Villa Volta. You sit through far too many minutes of preshows, that not even the locals are paying attention to, to finally be presented by a completely average Vekoma Madhouse. It’s fine, but not the legend I once viewed it as.
Next up, disappointment.
After spending far too much faff trying to reserve a slot to watch the show, only to be presented by a mostly empty arena, it was time for us to watch Ravelijn for the first time ever.
I think 3 factors are to blame for my lack of enjoyment, lack of maintenance, meaning the show wasn’t operating as it should, Covid stuff, meaning it was operating even worse than it could have and my high expectations for what many people call one of the best park shows in the World.
Bottom line, nothing exciting happened, and then it ended. I seriously hope that when Covid is gone and the park remember how to maintain attractions that it can return to its former glory, if it was ever that impressive to begin with and I haven’t been misled from the start.
Speaking of misled…
Fabula, the replacement to the incredible PandaDroom is far better than people have given it credit for.
Is it better than PandaDroom? No.
Did PandaDroom need replacing? No.
Is Fabula a fun, cute, 3D film with many nods to the past attraction? Yes, and I enjoyed it.
Max & Moritz
Next up was the final of the new (to us) attractions we’d need to experience today and it came in the form of the duelling Mack Powered Coasters, Max & Moritz.
Neither coaster was all that impressive on its own, but as I package I quite enjoyed Max & Moritz. The station theming is pretty impressive, the on-board audio is a nice addition and both coasters were at the very least fun.
After some lunch, which was pretty great (you can’t deny the Kaassoufflé), we made our way over to the fantastic Fata Morgana, the park’s legendary water based dark ride.
Much like Droomvlucht, with the exception of a few effects not working, Fata Morgana was every bit as wonderful as I remembered it.
What wasn’t as wonderful as I remembered it was Vliegende Hollander.
Either I’m remembering it wrong or the previously incredible dark ride section that begins the ride has had quite a few effects deactivated. This really mattered because the coaster section somehow felt even more pointless this time around.
Joris en de Draak
Then came easily the biggest disappointment of the day, they have ruined Draak…
A coaster that I adamantly defended as my favourite GCI and one of the best woodies in Europe was running absolutely awful today.
Slow, enough to ruin the duelling aspect and take out 90% of the airtime, and fun.
Rough, not the good kind, but the kind that gives you an instant headache.
This awful ride experience was also preceded by the worst operations I’ve ever witnessed at Efteling. We were left sitting in the train for over 5 minutes while the staff chatted to each other and with every passing minute I could feel the magic of the experience fading away.
Oh and before we move on, the amazing fire breathing dragon doesn’t even work anymore…
With Draak instantly dropping 12 places in my wooden coaster rankings, I really needed something to cheer me up. Thankfully Vogel Rok was kicking serious freakin’ ass today and might honestly now be the best coaster at the park.
Way more forceful than I remember from 2016 and featuring more effects than I remember from back then, Vogel is the only coaster to have improved between visits.
After a few more rides on Symbolica, we checked the time and discovered we had just enough to get a lap of Baron in before Aquanura started. So we sent Heartline’s wife to go find us a nice viewing spot as we jogged our way over to the park’s B&M Dive Coaster.
In 2016, with just over 100 coasters to my name, I thought Baron 1898, as a coaster, was pretty forceless and uninteresting. In 2021, with 900 coasters to my name, I was right.
Not discounting the amazing theming attempts and the awesome soundtrack, Baron as a coaster, really doesn’t do much for me at all.
During the Aquanura show, which was great as always, I was thinking to myself is it me or the park to blame for today’s visit not being as impressive as before. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s probably a bit of both, but more so the fault of the park for a lapse in maintenance and staff quality. Either way I really hope they can turn it around soon and that I when I inevitably return in the future the park can blow me away again.
Thanks for reading, click here for day 21 of my trip report, where we visit Movie Park Germany to check out their new Intamin.