You've already seen a few trip reports already, but here's mine! Another one got ahead of you, Larry!
So, full disclosure - up until the middle of July of this year, I had never been outside the United States - not even to Canada (eh) or Mexico! With (finally) a decent paying job this year, I began to plan my first international trip on my own. Little did I know that one of Theme Park Review's trips this year would end up being a Europe trip. Needless to say, Elissa brought me on board earlier this year and the rest is history.
That history being, one of the best experiences I have had so far in my life. I met some great new people, went to some amazing theme parks, and had exactly twenty-three Pofferjes. That last one might be made up, but I did have A LOT of Pofferjes.
Follow along with me as I show you the parks and places of the 2019 Europe trip, from the perspective of a first-time trip participant.
Episode 1 - "Bobbing Through Bobbejaanland", or, "Virtual Reality Makes the Queues Too Long"
Episode 2 - "A Quick Romp Through Amsterdam", or, "What I Thought Was A Quick Romp But Actually Wasn't"
Episode 3 - "Is Efteling Really Better Than a Disney Park?", or, "Don't Take The Flying Dutchman's Dining Sock"
Episode 4 - "Turning Toverland Upside-down", or, "If You Don't Get Injured You're Not Doing It Right"
Episode 5 - "Walibi Holland Went A Little Heavy On The Grafitti", or, "The Wilderness Apparently Loves Instagram Influencers"
Episode 6 - "How The Heck Did We Get to Drievliet Anyway?", or, This Slide Might Actually Be The Worst"
Episode 7 - "Duinrell and The Nautic Jet", or, "How Did All Of Those Campers Disappear So Quickly?"
Episode 8 - "Hyperion Has A Lot of Potential Energy-landia", or, "The Worst Best Park You'll Ever Get To See"
Episode 9 - "Legendia's Lech Next To A Loch", or, "Doesn't This Place Feel Slightly Creepy?"
Episode 10 - Auschwitz and Birkenau (this one doesn't have a fun title, sorry)
Episode 11 - "Look, Mom, Liseberg Let Me Deface A Roller Coaster", or, "Helix's Terrible No Good Very Bad Day"
Episode 12 - "The Kilometers Upon Kilometers of the Kolmarden Zoo", or, "I Hope That I Get To Meet Aggretsuko"
Episode 13 - "Grona Lund's Theme Park In A Box", or, "Are Those Really What Human Breasts Look Like?"
Obviously, since you've read this far in the post, you know where we're starting...
Episode 1 - "Bobbing Through Bobbejaanland", or, "Virtual Reality Makes the Queues Too Long"
So, unlike most others on this trip, I didn't get to take a quick hop to downtown Amsterdam (or anywhere else for that matter) before things got started. That's because...
Imagine the scenario. A worrywart of a redhead has a non-eventful flight from Orlando to Newark, with a four hour connection there. The redhead knows that he has to get to Amsterdam on time to meet his new friends to cram on a bus and go to a theme park in Belgium. The redhead's flight ends up being delayed almost two hours. The redhead panics.
Thankfully, I was on a flight with a wonderful crew that let me hop up to a seat in the front of the economy section right before we landed. I was the first one through immigration, and I grabbed a train ticket while waiting for my baggage. I was able to sprint all the way to the trip hotel near the Bijlmer Arena, with my bags in tow, with mere minutes to spare. It was off to Bobbejaanland!
This visit ended up being extremely casual for me, as I really just wanted to take everything in after my nail-biting plane experience. The photos will get better as the trip report goes along, I promise!
Hey, look! It's a park! A PARK!!! After the previous forty eight hours of my life, this was a freaking MIRACLE.
Bobbejaanland is... interesting, to say the least. At a glance, it's a pretty normal traditional amusement park. However, Bobbejaanland has lately been attempting to theme its areas, with, in my opinion... mixed results.
Is that a vertical lift roller coaster or are you just happy to see me?
Typhoon, one of the oldest Euro Fighter coasters, was my first coaster outside of the United States, and, honestly, I could have done worse. It has a pretty forceful vertical loop and three hang time rolls!
They see me roll-ing...
Typhoon, and its larger sister coaster Fury, are part of Bobbejaanland's new Land of Legends themed area which, if we're being honest, isn't much of a themed area. The three attractions in the area all have their entrances and exits in the same plaza, which has a large character statue in the center. It's pretty obvious that Typhoon was re-themed / overlaid to fit the new area, but Fury's theming is much more convincing.
Let's talk about Fury then!
Fury is a brand-new Gerstlauer Infinity Coaster with a TWIST! When you take your seat and pull down the lap restraint, you're allowed to select the direction in which you want the ride to travel. All twelve (or less) people in the train make their vote, and the majority decides the direction. The train turns into position using turntables at the beginning and end of the circuit. I'm a big wuss that gets motion sick sometimes so I only ever wanted to ride it forward. Thankfully, I wasn't unpleasantly surprised any of the times I rode it (thanks everyone).
The ride itself is pretty spectacular. You get excellent hang time during the spikes at the beginning and end of the circuit. The second launch (forward, backward, forward) is surprisingly forceful. There's ejector airtime over the first hill, and great airtime and forces all around. Even after this trip, Fury is near the top of my list.
Is this train going down... or up? Go watch that Theme Park Review YouTube video to find out! Like comment subscribe hit the bell icon!
After some post-trip soul-searching, I found out that Fury was my one hundredth coaster. Good for me, I guess? Nerd?
Here's one more, this thing is amazing.
Making your way around the park in a counter-clockwise loop, you'll eventually run into Naga Bay, the park's Maurer spinning coaster. Naga Bay is dumb. Not the ride, though - the ride is actually pretty fun, and myself and Chuck got some good spinning out of it.
Some call it a spinning coaster, others a sideways coaster. Play the lottery, I suppose.
What's dumb has to do with Bobbejaanland's retheming. It used to be called "Dizz" and be of a modern theme, but the park wanted to theme it to their Adventure Valley land. So, instead of bringing the land to the coaster, Bobbejaanland reconfigured the queue so that the ride entrance was in the Adventure land. This means that you see the sign for Naga Bay near the station, but in reality, you have to walk a long while in the opposite direction of the station platform to find the ride entrance, and THEN you have to walk all the way back. I find (Found? Am I screwing up my tenses?) this infuriating.
The entrance is down this pathway somewhere. At least the pathway is pleasant!
Next on our list was the Forbidden Caves dark ride. Larry led our little group in there and insisted that we wouldn't get killed Indiana Jones style. Obviously I'm still alive but I can't guarantee that anyone else lived. The ride itself is effectively discount Universal Kong, with action happening in a large vehicle on a shaking platform with surround screens. It didn't work for me and was kind of boring.
But what's even MORE boring than the Forbidden Caves ride is the wait for Revolution / Mount Mara, Bobbejaanland's indoor coaster and the subject of more than one "WTF" Theme Park Review video.
It's (a) roller coaster(s) in a box!
Here's where things get really stupid. Bobbejaanland has been going all-in on the virtual reality (VR) coaster game. For Revolution, they have virtual reality headsets for exactly half of its 30-car (!!) train, so the queue is split for both experiences. Revolution's operations were appalling, lengthening the wait times to the point where I believe we once waited more than ten minutes for a single dispatch. They were doing some odd grouping thing for the VR riders up front. The ride itself, though, is just as weirdly "WTF" awesome as the videos make it out to me. I really can't explain how it makes me feel.
Next up for us was Speedy Bob, which was probably the best standard wild mouse I've ever experienced. No brakes no brakes no brakes!
Other victim to the virtual reality trend was Dream Catcher, the park's old-style Vekoma suspended coaster. The queues were very long for that, too, and while most people waited it out to get their credit, I skipped it. Robb caught an interesting photo of the park cycling a train empty, but with the harnesses up AND the virtual reality equipment just danging below by their cables. Only in Europe, I guess?
You better ride this pretty good roller skater, okie dokie?
One coaster I didn't skip was Oki Doki. It may look like a typical Vekoma roller skater junior coaster but it's actually really fun! We also didn't skip the dark ride affectionately referred to as "Bench The Ride".
Here are some more random photos -
Here's the third attraction in the Land of Legends. It's a splash pad. Nice, but it isn't really a headliner, is it?
So, how many credits does Bob Express count as?
It's a log flume, but they turned the water off... Does that mean it's just a log?
At the end of the day, we had our first exclusive ride time of the trip. We had it on Typhoon first, which was fun, but the star of the evening was Fury! As a group we agreed to always alternate between forward / backward rides so that everyone had a chance to ride the way they wanted to.
The Land of Legends' fearless leader.
Peeking out overhead.
So, good first day of the 2019 Europe trip? I think so! Onto the next one!
- Bobbejaanland has very little signage that provides guests with true wayfinding. The park is generally just a loop so it's okay, but there are definitely a few spots where people could get lost.
- As evidenced in the Naga Bay photo above, the park has a lot of little crannies where the foliage just looks gorgeous.
- The vast majority of the park just looks nice. Nothing earth-shattering, but certainly worth just sitting down and spending your time.
- I also skipped Bob Express (the powered coaster) because really, who cares?
- Bobbejaanland's cowboy theming looks like how a U.S. theme park operator would try and theme a land to an Asian country like China or Japan. The thought is there, the effort is there, but it doesn't feel quite right. Kind of cartoony, a little bit out of touch, very stereotypical - though apart from the dark ride I never found anything blatantly offensive as a U.S. citizen.
- The King Kong ride is also weirdly awesome. It also has what are apparently anatomically-correct nipples?
- Typhoon has the same problem as Naga Bay in that the entrance and exit are really far away from the platform, and that can get confusing, especially if you have been to the park prior to its "transformation".
Thanks for reading! Next up, I actually get to take a run into Amsterdam!