The 2014 Theme Park Insider Tournament: Fata Morgana vs. Droomvlucht

March 12, 2014, 10:54 AM · No tribute to great attractions around the world would be complete without devoting a good bit of time to Efteling. The Dutch theme park opened in 1952, with a fairy tale garden designed by Dutch artist Anton Pieck. Pieck's work continues to provide the guiding design principles for Efteling, which has won raves from theme park designers throughout the industry, including from Disney Legend Tony Baxter. (Scroll down on that page for the paragraph in our interview where Baxter praises Efteling.)

Pieck died in 1987, but much like the Disney theme parks outlived Walt Disney, Efteling continued to prosper in tribute to the park's original guiding artistic force. Today, we will feature two of the park's dark rides that have won high ratings from Theme Park Insider readers.

Fata Morgana

Fata Morgana opened in 1986, one year before Pieck's death. Set in a Moroccan-style palace across a reflecting pool from the park's entrance, Fata Morgana is an indoor boat ride that recreates scenes from 1,001 Arabian Nights. You're the protagonist in the narrative on this ride, caught in a Forbidden City, then blasted out of prison. But instead of hightailing to safety with your second chance, you stick around and help yourself to the kings' harem and treasures before, well, let's just say everything goes dark in the end.

Time for some on-ride video. The ride action starts at 4:45:

Droomvlucht opened in 1993, Efteling's 12.5-million-Euro response to the opening of Disneyland Paris the year before. Translated as "Dreamflight," Droomvlucht takes riders through an elaborately decorated world of fairies, trolls, and fantasy landscapes. You ride in suspended vehicles through five scenes: Castle Realm, Wondrous Forest, Fairy Garden, Heavenly Strongholds, and Squelch Forest.


Let's take a ride on Droomvlucht. Ride starts at 1:50:

So what do you like: Fairy tales whimsy, or dark action epics? Suspended tracks, or boat rides? You can't choose both in our vote, so just pick the one you'd run to first if you ever get the chance to visit Efteling.

The poll is open for 48 hours, and campaigning via social media is encouraged! If you've been to Efteling, we'd love to hear your trip report in the comments.

Replies (7)

March 12, 2014 at 12:03 PM · Finally 2 rides I actually road and they are both great.
Efteling is very interweaved with Dutch culture like Disney Land is with American culture.
The artist Anton Piek called himself not an artist but a craftsman who made comforting drawings of how we would like to remember our world. But the park is also (like the art) quite sobering and dark and that brings out the harsh world and realities of the fairytales they depict.

Both rides presented are great but Fata Morgana is clearly an Arabian version of Pirates of the Caribbean. That doesn't make it bad, in some regards it's even better but it's not original.
Droomvlucht is original. Again the rider will make up the story as they travel past beautifully detailed scene's. The video doesn't come close into capturing the beauty of the scene's and the swirling downwards is actually exciting.

There are a lot of problems with Efteling. Smoking in line is ok, in the winter the park is hardly inviting and the upkeep is something to be desired. During school vacations waiting times of 4 hours are normal but there are some truly unique rides and experiences to be had there.

March 12, 2014 at 12:18 PM · We went to Efteling last year and it was a very different experience from other theme parks. There were a number of things which struck me apart from the superb rides - a lot of elderly people who were there simply enjoying the vast garden areas, the very friendly staff (who all spoke perfect English), and the female park patrons who would just walk into the men's restrooms when the ladies' were full! All in all it's well worth a visit.
March 12, 2014 at 4:31 PM · Both attractions strike me as being more quirky than entertaining or fun. The animatronics in Fata Morgana are just plain creepy, and in Droomvlucht all the sets look like miniatures as there does not appear to be any attempt to apply forced perspective like Disney so often does. There is no sense of the epic scope or scale that we find in Pirates of the Caribbean or the whimsy and fun we find in Peter Pan.

I'll go with Droomvlucht just because of the cool lighting during the "star scene" but neither attraction is all that appealing to me.

March 12, 2014 at 4:23 PM · Me and my partner & friends (all in our late 20's made the trip last year from the uk to Efteling, for Winter Efteling. We stayed on site at one of the cottages, the accommodation was home from home, spotless and comfy, and full of little extra touches that made it so welcoming. The park was amazing, having been to Disneyworld several times and several other parks worldwide we weren't too sure if this would compare... But it truly did! It had a great mix of attractions for all ages, and the gardens were stunning. It was a lovely large park filled with little quirky things that really made your trip extra special. I would highly recommend visiting! And staying on site! I can't wait to go back! The only down side was that the water rides were closed because of the time of the year but it made up for it with the winter overlay. Here in Europe, Efteling is the only park that opens year round other than Disneyland Paris, the Uk's Merlin owned attractions haven't yet woke up to the idea of year round opening sadly :( but that was a good excuse for us to fit in Efteling & Disneyland Paris this off season ;) Both the rides in today's poll really did compare to Disneys attraction if not in some ways beat them! Once again I would urge you to give them a visit if you can :)
March 12, 2014 at 5:39 PM · Thanks, Robert, for shining the spotlight on these two rides. (I'm loving the international theme with the brackets this year!)

I think comparing either attraction to its Disney counterpart misses the point. No, neither is as strong when it comes to narrative or whimsy. But I was taken by the dark, mystical tone of each experience - which I'm sure is amplified if I were to actually be there in person. The Efteling folks sure know how to create a mood. Plus, the layers of detail in Droomvlucht's scenes are incredible. But, was anyone else disappointed that the final, circular scene (pretty cool in terms of track layout) didn't have anything more interesting than Gollum doing the hokey pokey on the forest floor?

March 13, 2014 at 4:12 AM · Having been on these rides.. it is a hard choice.

I have to say the end of Droomvlucht is fantastic, it may be light on visuals (unlike the rest of the ride) but it is kind of fast and exhilarating at that point.

I have been to many theme parks (including several disney and universal) and have found the Droomvlucht to be one of my favourite rides in the world, it is fantastic, detailed and

when i got off that ride and felt a sense of wonder and awe that i have not felt on a ride since i was a child (i am 33 and was on this ride only a few months ago).

It was a truly magical ride in a truly magical park.

March 13, 2014 at 8:27 AM · Being Dutch myself and a big Efteling fan, I'd like to comment on the two attractions Droomvlucht and Fata Morgana. The latter was being build in the 1980s and opened in 1986. Droomvlucht was supposed to open in 1992 when Euro Disneyland welcomed its first guests. However due to large problems with the transportation system, which was build by a rather unknown company in the field, the opening was postponed. Nevertheless, Droomvlucht became the most beloved attraction in Efteling for years to follow since it offers the experience of dreaming. Different scenes, flying through landscapes with fairies and trolls into the widen open fantasy space and back to earth.

Fata Morgana is a totally different attraction. It actually tells the story of coming out of an oasis into the poor parts of an oriental city with its beggars, moving on to the markets and contrasting this with the wealth and richess of the sultan. Then the ride gets darker with the Djin, crocodiles and the dungeon and even a tunnel room which is turning on its axis.

Although Fata is the older attraction, it seems less dated to me than Droomvlucht, which has become a bit too kitchy to me, whereas Fata still provides this feeling of grandeur. It's a long varied boat ride and the attraction has been completely refurbished last year.
Droomvlucht's transportation system never had this smoothness of flying (but neither does Peter Pan's Flight at Disney).

Both feature music written especially for the ride and are masterpieces in itself.

I visited both Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World but none of its attractions ever came close to the magic happening in Fata Morgana or Droomvlucht.

If you're visiting the Netherlands (or Belgium for that matter): do go visit Efteling it has many more rides of very high quality. Its latest addition is a Water Spectacular called Aquanura build by WED who made the fountains of the Bellagio.

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