While I was in the Netherlands for the launch of Symbolica at Efteling, I had the chance to stop in at another Dutch park I'd heard good things about, Toverland. It's not a park that seems to get much attention, so I thought I'd share some notes and pictures from my visit.
It was about an hour and a half's drive from Rotterdam, where I was based for the weekend - although you could get there from Efteling in an hour, so would make a feasible add-on to a trip. There wasn't much signposting until you were nearly on the doorstep, but it was an easy enough drive.
More than half the park's rides are in one of two huge buildings, each given some whimsical light theming. Not elaborate by any means, but a step up from the average funfair. As these are largely just where you'll find rides for younger children, we didn't spend a lot of time here.
Entering the park through a large building does mean you get the benefit of this impressive façade though:
But before you even get to the entrance, there's one enormous structure that's going to grab your attention as soon as you drive onto the property: Troy. We have a notorious shortage of modern wooden coasters in Europe - although this is definitely improving of late - so I was particularly keen for this GCI design, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. And it absolutely doesn't disappoint.
There's no let up from start to finish; in fact, it gets more devious in catching you out with turns, hops and drops as it nears the end. POVs don't do Troy justice - it might just be my new favourite European wooden coaster.
The only criticism I had was of the music in the queue, more like elevator muzak than anything to build excitement or tension. But lo and behold, a quick check of Twitter revealed they'd just announced it's getting a new score courtesy of the beloved IMAScore.
After a couple rides, we stopped at the nearby swinging ship ride before heading to our second coaster, Booster Bike.
Having been on Velocity at Flamingoland - which has a similar design - recently and been pleasantly surprised, I have to admit to being a little disappointed in this one. I'm not sure if it was any slower, but it sure felt it, and there wasn't much to surprise or thrill in the track. Still, we only queued for a few minutes for it, and only because we were insistent on getting front row.
Next up was the nearby Djengu River rapids ride. No big drops or thematic set pieces, but the whole area is very nicely landscaped and succeeds in making it feel like an adventure. Bonus points for the trippy queue line.
We'd managed to get on all of that in just over an hour, thanks to an almost total absence of queues. But the rain started to pour at this point, so we took shelter at a nearby (albeit closed) counter service joint and watched the fountain & light show. A very World of Colour kind of thing, but a fun way to pass 10 minutes. (With another IMAScore track helping it along, of course.)
The rain subsided, so we headed to nearby Dwervelwind, a Mack spinning coaster. The rain had sent people looking for shelter, so we walked onto a nearly empty string of cars...and stayed on for another 3 rides after. This was the total surprise of the park for me - it's short, but so much fun.It packs a real punch, and having on-board speakers with a synchronised soundtrack does wonders.
There's no particular theming once you're out of the station, but it's very nicely tucked into the existing woodland environment in a way that ups the thrills. (And unfortunately makes getting good photos pretty tricky.) 2nd best thing in the park (after Troy, natch) by a long shot.
We finally headed back into the two main buildings for some food - standard theme park pizza - and to tick off a few more attractions: Villa Fiasko (curious fun house worth having a stumble through even as an adult... I fell over twice), Black Snake (an enclosed water slide with a fun sequence of lights) and Back Stroke (simple half indoor/half outdoor log flume with a couple turntables and backward drop to keep things interesting).
There was also a neat Bobsleds ride and a treetop challenge thing with harnesses that looked fun, but both were posting hour-long queues – courtesy of limited capacity typical of those types of attractions – and we were on a limited time frame. Maybe would have been worth hitting those first, had we known.
With the half hour we had left, we did the obvious thing and squeezed in three more rides on Troy, then grabbed a plate of poffertjes (little Dutch pancakes), took some photos and wandered briefly through the uninspiring shop on the way out.
All in all, 4 hours was plenty enough to hit the highlights multiple times. (If you had kids however, they'd have plenty to do for a whole day.) As a passing-by kind of thing, it's a fun half day worth doing for Troy alone. And at €25 for an adult ticket, pretty reasonably priced. At this rate of expansion and ambition though, I can't imagine the park has too many more years of such small queues ahead. Their next project - a B&M wing coaster - is currently little more than a pile of dirt. But based on this visit, I'd have high hopes and will definitely be tempted to return for that.
What really struck me was how thoroughly Toverland have considered the landscaping and attempted to 'place' each of their rides with thematic design and music, even with a limited budget – following the example of Phantasialand over the border in Germany. It's not quite worthy of a dedicated trip just yet, but definitely worth stopping in on if you're passing by.Tweet
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