A wild and untamed beast

Up to now, Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC for short) has usually created new life for older wooden coasters with a bad reputation, but that it would also affect very solid and absolutely great wooden coasters, was new. Robin Hood has been one of my favorite coasters since my first ride in 2009, at times due to the uncertain future of the wooden roller coaster Colossos from Heide Park in Soltau, it was even on the first place of my wooden roller coaster favorites – so why rebuild it? Don’t get me wrong, I am on your side. For the park, the modification has advantages that shouldn’t be denied, be it the lower maintenance effort or the great advertising effect of such a roller coaster. Untamed is on everyone’s lips and that has its reasons.

With the arrival of Untamed, the theme area Sherwood Forest has also undergone fundamental changes and has thus adapted to previous adjustments in this area. The theme area Wilderness picks up the festival theme of the amusement park and complements it with new, hip planting and colourful painted rides. The slick top Spin Excalibur has become Blast, and the formerly discreet looking castle of Merlin’s Magic Castle now looks like it’s out of a drug trip due to its wall art. Apart from these adjustments there are no other changes, which is a little bit strange, especially when riding on the Vekoma Mad House. 

Nevertheless, let us now come to a ride on the new roller coaster. After you have left the now beautifully designed queue behind you, or after you have waited a little bit on the stairs in front of the station as a single rider, you are assigned a seat. Shortly after that, the employees expertly close your bar, whereupon the ride starts effectively. After the station there is a turn tilted to the wrong side, whereupon the lift hill of the roller coaster is reached. This takes you up to the starting height of 36,5m and thus 4m higher than it was before.

With a maximum inclination of 80° we immediately fall to the ground. Here we race over a very tiny speed bump before we skilfully screw ourselves up into the air. Very similar to a banana roll we experience the 270° Double Inverting Stall, in which we roll away first in one direction and then in the other direction and in between we also experience some lateral airtime. Back on the ground we immediately witness a double-up element rich in airtime, whereby we merge into a left turn. Two more hills later we turn upside down once more as we approach the turning point of the ride, which is the front turning point from the visitor’s point of view. After a pressure-packed turning manoeuvre, we dedicate ourselves to the way back, whereby we now go over numerous hills with a good pinch of ejector airtime. Here we hit the bar again and again, which efficiently prevents us from falling out of the train. Over a twisted hill the final part of the ride is initiated. Now, the ride goes over hill and dale in an ever faster and faster pace, before another roll (just above the ground) is introduced. After this fulminant orgy the train drops down again quite suddenly, before the braking section of the layout is reached.

Untamed is a dignified successor of the wooden roller coaster Robin Hood. The ride is simply breathtaking and has many unique elements, which are just wicked and absolutely great. Accordingly, Untamed did everything right. I would have liked to ride it more often than just two laps, but I’m sure this will come true, if the first rush will have settled down sometime. Until then I remain curious about my next ride and, as always, I am looking forward to another visit to Walibi Holland. 

Walibi Holland (2018)

The journey through the castle of fantasy

A visit to the Dutch theme park Efteling is always a good idea, especially in winter. Although you have to live without the water rides Piraña and Vliegende Hollander, the Winter Efteling is one of the best winter events in an European theme park. No wonder that I have visited the park by now more often in winter than in summer. With Symbolica and the other dark rides, Efteling is a rather special place in winter.

As the airfares from England to Hamburg were a bit too expensive for me for the Christmas season, I found a trip to the amusement park a practical way to get home. At that time there were no offers, so I decided to buy a Ticket Luxe. This includes the entrance fee, a short ERT on selected rides (which is only worthwhile, when being at the park way before its opening), 25% discount on souvenirs, a snack, coffee & cake, as well as a dinner in one of the park’s service restaurants and the parking ticket. The latter alone costs 10€, which is why the surcharge on the normal ticket price only costs a total of 20€ for a person travelling alone. This is quite a fair deal; for each additional person in the same car, however, the surcharge is 30€, as they do not need the parking ticket – especially for families with children, this option might not be a good idea. It is an all-round carefree package, very similar to the all-inclusive package of the Danish amusement park Tivoli Gardens, except that the amusement park here is much bigger and you can easily lose yourself in the absence of planning.

This has happened to me at least; such a ticket is kind of stressful. After spending my time with the park’s attractions, I was the last visitor in the Panorama restaurant nearby Vogel Rok. After its closure, I even got served an espresso when all the other guests had already left the restaurant. That was very exemplary – and I was very happy to be able to redeem the last voucher of the Ticket Luxe. The food offered here was good, I had salmon with a glass of white wine and the already mentioned espresso – at the end, the ticket option was quite useful. For this reason, I recommend this ticket option to anyone who can manage comfortably with all-round carefree packages and knows in advance that they are going to eat in the park at regular intervals.

In addition to this all-inclusive premiere, another novelty had to be tested: Symbolica. The journey through the Palace of Fantasy is Efteling’s newest dark ride, where you can explore three different paths: the Heroes Tour, the Treasure Tour and the Music Tour. The special feature of Symbolica is the ride system used, as it does not need rails and the gondolas seem to move randomly along the route.

The general ride sequence of Symbolica is the same for all three tours up to a certain point. On our way to the audience with King Pardulfus we are guided through numerous beautifully designed halls and corridors by the court magician Pardoes. The scene in the Botanicum is especially memorable, where a whale suddenly appears on the spell of Pardoes, the surrounding glass roof gets a jump and water penetrates the castle. This moment is Efteling in perfection and thus you can’t get out of your amazement. In the following corridor you can shake your car back and forth – as the car is also fitted with touch panels and invites visitors to interact.

All three gondolas then disappear into a small room where, in addition to the obligatory ride photo, a kind of mini-game awaits the passengers in the front row. The back row has to be a little patient, as this section unfortunately takes some time. Thereafter, each gondola is released into the fantasy depot, whereupon all gondolas enter a special room according to their tour. Especially the hero tour is recommended as it allows to fight against each other with two knight animatronics or to leave it as it is; depending on which decision you choose in this scene or depending on which decision the first row takes in this scene, the grand finale of Symbolica changes accordingly. Arriving in the ballroom you can watch a very happy party or chaos at work. Thanks to the different ends (only two of them are mentioned here, which I attended myself) this ride has a lot of potential for repetitions, however, you need a few rides before you finally understand the influence of the Symbolica’s touch screens. The room with the mirror unfortunately looks uninspired, the rest is just great; although the ride would have been even better if the interaction had been solved differently. Unfortunately, this leaves a bland aftertaste that doesn’t really do justice to this dark ride.

I spent the rest of the day hoping that the Bob roller coaster would eventually open – which unfortunately didn’t happen – and with numerous rides on the roller coasters and dark rides of the theme park. I was also able to do one last lap on the original Python roller coaster before it was rebuilt by replacing the rails and supports. In Efteling nothing disappears so quickly, especially not the family fun.