sofulsomety wrote:Funny how you disliked Spookslot so much. I think it's pretty unique in how they went all out scary over whimsical in such a child-oriented park. Especially considering this was their first large scale attraction, largely designed in house when they were just a playground. I'm not familiar with any European walkthrough/dark ride built before this that doesn't look cheap.
Hear hear! Spookslot is weird and outdated but also a very unique part of Efteling history. I think it's awesome they are still maintaining and operating it.
Again an amazing trip report! Very interested in the next part.
A.J. wrote:Oh my goodness you caught that near-miss. I literally had no idea.
If I were a more responsible adult, I probably would have said "hey, don't slide down yet, there are kids running around" but honestly this was funnier.
DBru wrote:WOW. I can’t tell you how many times I laughed out loud during this report. It truly captures how much FUN we had on this trip—including but not limited to when AJ nearly obliterated that child on the slide.
Hard to beat a highly themed park with 1.5 fantastic coasters in a box! Especially ones with so much almost-airtime!
So much almost-airtime! Even some almost-almost airtime! Yeah, this report is such a great look into how we all just enjoy ourselves and act like kids on these trips. There will be more of that to re-live as this trip report continues!
sofulsomety wrote:Funny how you disliked Spookslot so much.
julianus wrote:Hear hear! Spookslot is weird and outdated but also a very unique part of Efteling history. I think it's awesome they are still maintaining and operating it.
I totally get that it's probably an important part of the park's history. Sort of like with Python. I wouldn't in a million years have thought it was a good idea to completely re-build an otherwise-mediocre loopscrew, when you could have built a better, brand new thrill coaster instead. But Efteling knows its clientele better than I do, and I'm not in the theme park business.
^I agree that the footprints and path are nice and cute, but I think Andy was more referring to being let into the park in a tiny corner, through a fence, into a toddler play area as opposed to the grand front entrance.
You know, I think the only reason Efteling does these as a slower sit-down restaurant (as opposed to the walk-up window at Europa) is to ensure people don't eat twice their weight in Poffertjes.
SharkTums wrote:^I agree that the footprints and path are nice and cute, but I think Andy was more referring to being let into the park in a tiny corner, through a fence, into a toddler play area as opposed to the grand front entrance.
Yep, exactly. I mean, I know there's no room to build a second House of the Five Seasons over there, but certainly there's space to make something that's appropriately themed and a little more official-looking. And move the kiddie toys elsewhere.
Thursday and Friday, July 18-19, 2019 Day 7 / Day 8: Efteling Part 2: Showtime
The first part of my TR about Efteling covered the coasters, the rides, the overall atmosphere, the Fairytale Forest, and the poffertjes.
This part is going to focus on two of the park's biggest shows -- Raveleijn and Aquanura. Plus, I'll add in some other night-time photos as well, because Efteling looks pretty cool in the dark.
I'll start with Raveleijn -- a big show that's one part fantasy, one part action, and one part ornithology. It's a huge production with special effects, fight scenes, and fire -- all set in a grand outdoor theater that can hold 1,200 guests. Raveleijn opened in 2011, and received significant changes in 2013, overhauling both the story and the physical set.
There's just one problem -- I've now seen it twice, and I have no idea what Raveleijn is about. The whole thing is in Dutch. So, let's ask the Efteling website!
"An anxious nation waits for their oldest prophecy to come true. One day five talented riders free the village from years of domination by the evil ruler, Count Olaf Grafhart and his five-headed monster forever. Watch the legend of Raveleijn come to life in this spectacular park show featuring stunt horse riders, a disappearing Princess and a fire breathing dragon."
Ah, OK. That kind of makes sense, I guess.
Wait, what's this other bit?
"Raveleijn is spoken in Dutch, but there are headsets available from our staff where you can hear a translation."
Things that would have been nice to know before I watched the show.
So, I'll look around online and see if I can find a more detailed plot description as I go through the pictures. Or I might just make stuff up. Read the captions at your own risk.
Since I've seen Raveleijn twice, in 2016 and 2019, I have two sets of photos -- from two different seating locations. I'll keep the pictures in story order, but I'll use stuff from both years, so I've got two different camera angles to choose from. You may notice the different casts, but the characters and the story are the same.
Here's the inside of the Raveleijn theater, which is fairly large.
Because of the way the set pieces are arranged, some of the seats have a bit of an obstructed view.
The left side of the Raveleijn theater, including the Raveleijn gate that makes up an important part of the story.
The middle of the theater, with the giant belfry tower that rises above the city of Raveleijn.
The right side of the theater. The Raveleijn restaurant is located on the ground floor over there.
So, our story has begun, with four very regular-looking and not-at-all intentionally color-coded people. They're all brothers and sisters, and they're looking for their fifth sibling, who is lost.
So, they consult a map.
Suddenly, this not-at-all regular looking lady appears atop the tower. Turns out she's the Countess Halina, she can command the power of ravens, and she's stuck in a doomed relationship with her terrible husband.
Also, she asks if the regular-looking kids can save her kingdom or something.
Suddenly armed with ravens themselves -- and still looking for their lost brother -- the kids head through the magic gate.
Quoth the raven: nooit meer!
(that's Dutch for "nevermore," he says, explaining the joke)
And so, our soon-to-be heroes enter the gate to Raveleijn...
...where suddenly, they are turned into color-coded horse-riding knights!
I suppose I should introduce the cast. The guy in green is Maurits, and the guy in red is Thomas. Unless that's the guy in orange, the missing brother -- in which case, it's Joost.
The identical twin sisters are Emma (purple) and Lisa (blue).
I don't know the name of the horse.
Apparently the gate to Raveleijn is a gate to another world, and it turns the siblings into grown-ups who have suddenly acquired armor and helmets.
No, I'm not sure it makes sense either, but we'll go with that.
So, the five siblings of the Woudenberg family are re-united here in Raveleijn -- but Countess Halina has appeared, and she's not too happy.
Because this guy, who is obviously the bad guy, is rising up out of the water.
This is Count Olaf Grafhart. He's a terrible, ruthless despot, ruling over Raveleijn with an iron fist.
He's also Countess Halina's husband.
So, he does as any husband does, and ... traps Halina in a glass chamber, and makes her disappear.
Perfectly normal relationship they've got going here.
Anyway, Olaf's henchmen show up, and we start the first big fight scene.
Thomas and Joost square off against Olaf and his goons.
You can tell which ones are the bad guys because they're wearing black.
Aren't you glad you're reading these captions?
Joost is supposed to be the youngest of the siblings, but he's holding his own here.
Olaf, meanwhile, may or may not actually be Olaf. According to the internet, the real Olaf Grafhart was locked in the basement of the belfry, and an evil genius named Falco Peregrinus took his place.
You'd think Halina would have noticed, but then again, she's kinda been busy playing with birds.
The action continues a little closer to the Efteling gate.
And then it heads up the tower.
Thomas and Olaf square off for a vicious swordfight on the roof.
Thomas: "Didn't I see you in Frozen?"
Olaf: "Call me a cuddly snowman one more time..."
Thomas: "I've got your warm hugs right here!"
(I promise that'll be the last Frozen reference of this trip report)
The fighting continues up high, as the clock ticks away. If the real Olaf Grafhart is still locked up in the dungeon, he's missing one hell of a fight.
The fight continues on near the Raveleijn gate.
Lisa finds herself restrained by two of the goons...
Lisa's profile on Efteling's website states that she is afraid of mice.
Lisa is, apparently, not afraid of Olaf Grafhart.
Olaf suddenly finds himself wondering if nose jobs are a thing in whatever alternate universe this story takes place in.
Lisa is also described as "introverted but tough." Olaf's thugs are getting a taste of the latter.
Emma, on the other hand, is described as "extroverted and spicy."
Emma's clearly had enough of this black-jacketed clown.
Lisa skewers the opposition.
Together, the twin sisters are nearly unstoppable.
I mean, if they were stoppable, the story would end too quickly. And there hasn't even been any fire yet.
"Hey Lisa, I got one! He's only partially drowning but whatever!"
Olaf Grafhart re-appears on the tower, and he is not pleased.
"Well, you slaughtered all my goons, and now I'm mad!"
"But let's see what you punks think of...
...HORSE ON FIRE!"
(laser snake sold separately)
Did you know that Horse On Fire in Dutch is Paard In Brand?
Now you do.
There's just one problem with the horse on fire -- they kinda forgot to actually develop any plot points for him. He just kinda rides around a bit and then disappears.
But I mean, who needs plot points when you've got HORSE ON FIRE?
"Uh, Lisa, what was that horse on fire thing all about?"
"I don't know, Emma, but look at what's coming next!"
Meet the great Draconicon. A giant five-headed dragon...
...that breathes fire.
Watch in amazement as Olaf summons his most vicious creation from the top of the tower.
Olaf's all like "I was doing fire-breathing theme park dragons before Universal ever signed their lives away to JK Rowling!"
Besides, the Gringott's dragon only has one head!
Oops, zoomed in a little too close and broke the illusion.
There, that's better.
So, how are our heroes going to beat the mechanical five-headed dragon beast?
"Ha ha ha ha ha, you guys will never defeat my mechanical five-headed dragon beast!"
Joost: "Uh, I'm the dumb young sibling, you have any ideas?"
Oh, right. Water.
The fire-breathing dragon doesn't seem to like water.
And our heroes have effectively made it rain.
Things are no longer looking so hot for Olaf and his Draconicon.
"Thomas, we haven't bankrupted our special effects budget quite yet, so why don't you set your sword on fire?"
"Great idea, Joost! I'll try not to inflame another horse this time."
I should probably mention that as the story goes, the five siblings are not only color coded, but also given special powers based on five elements. It's like somebody watched an episode of Captain Planet, dropped a bunch of acid, and then transposed it into medieval Europe.
Thomas, as is obvious, has the power of fire. Joost has the power of earth. Maurits has the power of wood. Emma has the power of metal.
Lisa has a giant conch shell for a dagger, which makes sense, because she has the power of water. If you ask me, that makes her most responsible for taking down the dragon, but nobody asked me.
The Draconicon's dying breath -- the heroes have won!
And look! Countess Halina has returned, and now has the power to stop the evil henchmen in their tracks.
Halina's profile on the Efteling website includes the following...
"Is afraid of: My husband Olaf."
Oh, and this bit: "As countess of Raveleijn, I want the people to be liberated. Even if my husband Olaf locks me up for it."
This is not a healthy relationship.
"But I am the great Olaf Grafhart! I rule over Raveleijn! Nobody dares oppose me!"
"I'm your wife, I'll oppose you all I want."
"But what about that time we rode Python together when we were teenagers? You said it was your favorite coaster in the Netherlands!"
"I only said that because I hadn't been to Walibi Holland yet!"
"Now be gone, evil husband, and your stupid henchmen too."
And that ends the story of Raveleijn. I think.
I'm still trying to figure out if Countess Halina's actually supposed to be a good guy. She entrapped five kids to fight in a dangerous battle that isn't theirs, and then sentenced her husband to death by drowning. But maybe the ambiguity is part of the intrigue...
And now, the round of applause on horseback! Hooray, Joost.
Well fought, Emma.
Applause for Maurits, who ... kinda didn't make it into too many of my pictures. I guess somebody has to play second fiddle. Or fifth fiddle.
Back through the Raveleijn gate one last time...
...on their way to return to the real world.
"Fight on, brothers and sisters, and one day you too can help a lonely old woman commit mariticide!"
And then, Countess Halina re-appears at the top of the tower, with a flock of birds.
(the birds were not particularly cooperative in 2016)
Curtain call, 2016 edition!
(the guy in red on the end is the narrator)
Also from 2016!
And in a picture I could not possibly have been better positioned for -- the curtain call from 2019.
So, that's Raveleijn!
And now, it's dinner time.
This is the inside of the restaurant off to the side of the stage. The restaurant is called Het Wapen van Raveleijn.
Here's a picture of the first course. Bread, veggies, meats, etc.
In two years of eating at this restaurant, I did not get a picture of the main course (roast chicken with vegetables) or the dessert (mini warm apple pies). So, you will have to take my word for it that everything was delicious and that these dinners were, on both TPR Europe tours, among my favorite meals of the entire trip.
There are some interactive elements to the dinner ... including the "crowning" of kings and queens who were gifted the task of going and getting the chicken.
They said that only strong people could be selected, so I was out.
We chose well! And I think I got three of the apple pies, so I can't complain.
I don't remember the details, but one of Efteling's higher-up managers or executives came by to our tables while we were enjoying dinner. He thanked us for traveling to Efteling, and chatted with us about some of the park's plans. Always nice to get a visit like that!
After dinner was done, another Raveleijn show was starting up. But just outside the Raveleijn gates, a smaller show was also underway.
Who wants to learn how to sword-fight?
It was a large crowd gathered around, so whatever they were demonstrating was obviously of interest.
And now we've got a whole pack of kids ready to fight the five-headed dragon the next time Joost calls out sick!
It's all part of the much larger world of Raveleijn, which includes a TV show and numerous books. Based on the response at the park, it seems like it's been pretty successful.
As I mentioned in the last post, Efteling was open very late -- until 11 PM.
That gave me plenty of time to get a few pictures as night fell, before the day's final showing of Aquanura.
At around 9:45 PM, I headed out the main gate to get some dusk shots of the House of the Five Senses.
The interior lighting under the roof is pretty neat, and you won't be able to catch that in a day-time picture.
(Larry, Ryan, Brad, and Chuck are also in this photo, but they look teeny-tiny)
It's very purple.
Another view from just off to the side.
One more from under the canopy on the inside. This is an impressive enough building during the day, but it's even more dramatic at night.
Aquanura ran five shows throughout the course of the day. As I got back into the park, the second-to-last show was underway.
The first three were in broad daylight, which isn't all that exciting for a fountain show. This one was at dusk, so at least some of the lighting and colors were becoming apparent.
I, however, did not need sleep -- and I was waiting for the final show at 10:45 PM.
So, to pass the time, I headed over to my favorite little corner of Efteling, the Steenbokplein -- the snack kiosks over by Bob.
Much to my surprise, that area had been turned into some kind of crazy party!
This guy was leading the dance from his spot on stage with a giant maypole.
I confess that I cannot see a maypole without thinking about "The Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats.
I wish I'd taken a video of the scene -- there were hundreds of people dancing and singing and clapping.
They even did a big conga line thing while waving flags around.
I had no idea what was going on at the time, but a bit of searching provided some answers. This guy's a character named Jürgen Freilich (portrayed by Rene Peters). And there are lots of videos of him performing at Efteling on Youtube.
Rock on, Jürgen.
At last, night falls on Efteling -- as one of the giant frogs watches on.
A very blue shot across the pond at Fata Morgana.
And now, the fountain show begins.
Aquanura, which debuted in 2012, was developed by WET Design. They're basically the premier company in doing water shows -- they're responsible for the Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas, among many others.
While most of the Aquanura shows are set to a symphonic medley of songs from Efteling's attractions, this night-time show was different.
We got the version of the show called Tiësto-Aquanura -- with loud dance mixes of various Efteling songs, as put together by the Dutch DJ and producer Tiësto.
For these pictures, I set up on the north side of the Aquanura pond, facing Fata Morgana to the south. I attached my Gorillapod to the railing for stability, and shot with exposures of anywhere from 5 to 15 seconds.
I'm kind of out of caption ideas, so enjoy the pretty colors of Aquanura.
The end of Aquanura. This last shot kinda looks like a crown. Fitting, perhaps, because the whole thing is loosely built around the Frog Prince -- "anura" refers to the taxonomic order of frogs.
The show ended at 11PM, and the park was closed. Or was it?
How about one last visit to the Steenbokplein?
A ha, the stroopwafel kiosk is still open!
Watch in awe as the gooey warm caramel filling is added to the freshly-griddled waffles.
One more stroopwafel for the end of the night. Or two.
And now, a few "they haven't kicked me out of the park yet so why not" long exposure night shots. Here's part of Piraña.
Another shot of Piraña at night -- with some very nice lighting on the rocks.
A final goodnight and goodbye to our dear friend Bob.
Bob will be missed, but the dueling powered coaster they're putting in is sure to be a family hit.
Goodnight, Carnaval Festival!
Goodnight, Monsieur Cannibale!
Goodnight, Vogel Rok!
One last farewell to our big avian friend...
...but wait, it appears he's picked up a hitchhiker.
A boy and his bird.
Sorry Daniel, but it's time to go!
Goodbye, Efteling. You are a truly magical, sometimes a bit confusing, but nonetheless incredibly spectacular theme park.
Someone should probably check in on Olaf and Halina every now and then, though. Just saying.
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