Walibi World, The Netherlands
My wife and I are about to head home from an end-of-summer vacation in Berlin and Amsterdam, and as she’s indulgent of her husband, she was okay spending part of our first full day in Amsterdam heading a bit out of town to Walibi Holland, a park I’ve wanted to go to for a very long time.
We rented a car because public transportation out there seemed incredibly tedious and time-consuming, and I’m glad we did because the afternoon before (when we arrived from Berlin), we were able to head out to the coast along the North Sea and see some beautiful Dutch countryside. Walibi Holland is in the opposite direction of where we went the day before, but wow. Just wow. It’s a beautiful drive from the city with never-ending fields and little development to detract from the natural beauty. Windmills are literally everywhere, but they seemed so fitting littered throughout the broad, open fields.
We eventually arrived at the park, with Goliath being the only really visible ride going in (and eventually Xpress). Goliath was the reason I wanted to come, having been at the top of my coaster bucket list for years. Two laps were had with one in the front and one in the back. I’d read many reviews calling it one of the greatest coasters on Earth, and while it was genuinely an outstanding ride, I felt like my expectations were a little too high. There’s nothing really wrong with the ride by any means, but I wish I’d come a bit more open-minded about it. The airtime was absolutely stellar, with all of the ride’s straight hills launching you out of your seat with severe force, and the ride delivered a great sense of speed despite being on the smaller end of Intamin megacoasters (just above the Mega-lites, really). I’d describe it as the diet version of SFNE’s Superman, trading in the length and size of the Massachusetts monster for some more aggressive air and a few differently-styled maneuvers (the Stengel dive, for example). I think the back row is the sweet spot on it.
From there, it was basically a one-by-one checking off of the park’s other coasters. Robin Hood was first and it was a ride I was nearly as excited to check out as I was Goliath. I wondered how a Vekoma wooden coaster would ride. I got my answer, and it wasn’t a good one. I took row two of the first three-bench car, figuring that waiting an extra train for the front row wasn’t really worth it, despite the great crew not stacking trains. We bucked, shuffled, and shuddered pretty hard, and that was just on the turn out of the station going to the lift hill. The rest of the ride was far worse, with brutal roughness jackhammering me the whole ride. I feared what the back must have felt like.
El Condor was my third coaster of the day, and, like pretty much every coaster at the park, I was excited for it, strange as it may sound. I’ve ridden my fair share of SLCs, and I was eager to check out the first. It was the type of ride that gave SLCs the reputation they have, but credit where credit is due: the layout of the rides is actually pretty cool. I like the relatively unusual inversion sequence when one considers the layout of B&M inverts, and they pack a lot of wallop in such a compact space. I think that if they could ride smoothly, they’d be above some of my lower-ranked B&M inverts. El Condor was brutally rough and those thickly-padded restraints suck, but it’s a ride I’m glad I experienced.
Lost Gravity was credit number four for the day and the ride I expected to have the longest wait, but a single rider line dropped that wait substantially. Lost Gravity was a ride that I wish got more notoriety than it did (and does). I don’t think I stopped laughing the whole ride. It’s small, but it’s just completely bananas. Every maneuver was punchy and it was impossible to tell what was going to happen. It’s the ride every Eurofighter wishes it could be. It earned every one of the five stars I gave it.
We stopped to eat some poffertjes at this point. For those unfamiliar with what those are, they are these tiny Dutch pancakes (read: smaller than Oreos). They coat them in a variety of toppings, but I went with the proper standard: a heap of melted butter and powdered sugar. Oh my gosh, do we need these in the States.
Just two credits remained: Speed of Sound and Xpress - Platform 13. Speed of Sound was a really good Boomerang, a ride that, when they ride like this, can be pretty enjoyable. It had the newest trains, so the ill effects of shuffling were rendered mute by the pleasant restraints. I lucked out with the front row on this, and I had a great time. There isn’t much to add, but it was a nice add to my Boomerang collection.
The final ride was Xpress - Platform 13, also known as the outdoor clone of the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. I thought Walibi World really put some nice effort into the theme on this ride, which reminded me a bit of the Tower of Terror with a train theme. At the point where I thought they were going to let us into the station, we actually began a walkthrough of a replica abandoned, semi-haunted train station, which was an awesome touch. Eventually, we lined up by rows with a wall and doors in front of us that gave the impression that derelict trains were whizzing by on the other side. The doors opened and I found myself boarding what I call the second-generation Vekoma trains (think the kind you sometimes see on Boomerangs with the curvier cars). The ride definitely failed to track as well as the Aerosmith-themed rides, making the coaster itself a bit less enjoyable on that front, but the theme and the general greatness of the layout left a good impression.
With that ride completed, we decided to call it a day. My impression of the park was highly favorable in spite of a beyond-confusing layout and corny architecture and theme work in a lot of places, with a few great coasters and exceptional crews making me very grateful that I got the opportunity to visit it. It can be a little tough to get to from a logistical perspective, but it’s a very nice place.
That sounds awesome.
My tour through the Netherlands included a lot of countryside and I thought it was enchanting. And Amsterdam was off the hook. So beautiful.
I had a choice in theme parks there and I took Efteling. I had more than an afternoon though, and I liked it so well I stayed two days. The themeing was some of the most delightful and exquisite I’ve ever seen and the rides weren’t bad, either. No gigas there for me, but I had one of the most memorable experiences ever. And in Netherlands there’s scarcely a language barrier so I felt right at home and everyone there was so nice.
I’m glad you mentioned the poffertjes. They’re a Dutch treat that I had a hard time wrapping my head around until I tried them. There was a stand at Efteling and due to low crowds I was able to stop and visit and find out more. Did you watch them make them? There’s a sheet-cake sized iron pan, very dark and well-seasoned, with dozens of golf ball shaped wells. Butter and batter went in, they cooked on one side, then the guy so expertly flipped each one back into its well using just a skewer to cook the other side. I also decided on a traditional batch for starters. The girls there found me so charming (or maybe they felt sorry for me) (or maybe they were so slow) that I wound up with 9 on my plate instead of the usual order of six. Quite delicious and filling so I didn’t try a second round with stuff on top.
We work at our state fair and are always looking for a new item to make us rich. There’s nothing like them over here, and even though they might be an expensive initial set up and are labor intensive, we decided they’d fly outta there. We’re still thinking about it....
Thanks for the report.Last edited by RCMAC, Friday, August 31, 2018 10:01 AM
Oh, I very much enjoy watching them get made. We had some at the Albert Cuyp Market our last day in town as well, and it was cool to see how fast the gentleman making them could go through flipping them over while maintaining precision.
I think you should totally invest in the equipment. I’m surprised they haven’t really made it over here yet.
Also, I considered Efteling and Toverland, but Goliath was the driving force. I’d love to check out the other two someday, though, especially with Efteling getting the reviews it does.
I think that Walibi Holland was also the closest, so that helped as well. ;)
Well, you didn’t make the trip to Europe to dis the top coaster on your bucket list when you were so close, so I totally get it. I would like to have visited all the parks, truth told.
My top o the list item was Munich’s Oktoberfest. It poured rain off and on the only evening we had to go. And guess what? I rode those rides anyway! My lederhosen weighed 30 lbs. but I didn’t care.
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