Drievliet is located in the middle of an industrial estate. We had almost gotten to the point of questioning the signposts when the park became visible on the horizon. The car park was a depressing sight; six coaches of children, and two cars, one of them ours. It seemed that, like at Efteling the day before, we had landed on a day with a lot of school groups. The groups all appeared to have just one volume setting, better known as piercing, and we made an almost immediate decision not to linger here any longer than necessary. This time was prolonged somewhat by the fact that most of the rides open half an hour after the park itself, but nevertheless we were in and out relatively quickly.
It seems unlikely that we would have ended up in this park at all had it not been for its two Maurer spinning coasters, the first of which is the highly unusual Twistrix (#490). The train on this coaster consists of eight chained spinning cars, which as far as we could tell contained no restriction on their rotation whatsoever. The track has a spiral layout, and all turns are in the same direction. The effect of this is a ride experience that feels like a waltzer built on coaster track, and while it certainly qualifies as unusual, it is not something that I would make an effort to come back to. Nothing else of consequence was open yet, so we stopped for a coffee break in the back of the park. Yes folks; the shops were open even though the rides were not. On the plus side, the mob of children hadn't realised that!
After the standard fare of Kopermijn (#491) we were eager to try out Xtreme (#492). This was the first so called Xtended SC 2000 coaster, and as such the direct ancestor of the magnificent Dragon's Fury, which is particularly good fun. This model originally travelled on the german fair circuit, but now has a permanent home. Unfortunately, it suffers both from awkward tracking and an almost complete lack of spinning. Perhaps this is due to maintenance, or perhaps it is just an older version of the design. Whatever the case, the ride was disappointing and not terribly comfortable. Once was most definitely enough. We were fortunate in our timing, as it started to lash rain almost immediately as we disembarked. This caused the ride to E-Stop, with several of the schoolchildren trapped on the unshielded brake run in pouring rain. There is a god...!
Time was getting on, but before leaving we tried out the Spookslot ghost train and the Luchtballonnenrad ferris wheel. Both turned out to be missable, but without riding we could not have known that.
31st May 2005
Duinrell is a caravan ground much like Butlins in the UK. This is not somewhere I would normally even consider visiting, as memories of similar sites in the United Kingdom reminded me exactly how horrible such places typically are. However, it was (mostly) on the direct route between Drievliet and the airport, and it did feature a single coaster, the Kikker-8-Bahn (#493). This would, of course, be the same as every other large tivoli out there, but it would nonetheless be another credit. The site proved only marginally less depressing than I had feared. The place was clean, but other than that it could have been Pontins Blackpool, even down to the sizeable population of English tourists. Part of me wanted to run for it having already ridden the coaster, but we had paid to get in, and as such it was worth seeing what else, if anything, might be on offer.
One such oddity turned out to be the Splash ride. As the name might suggest, this was a giant splash ride, but with one major difference; one of the two boats was fitted with a roof and screen to shield riders from the effects of a few thousand litres of airborne water. Neither George or I had ever seen anything like this, and as such we could not resist trying it out. The weather had gotten quite cold, and as such it was hardly surprising that the queue for the covered boat was about six times longer than that for the open one, but in due course we were on board. Readers should beware that, while not as wet as an open boat, the design was nonetheless not as dry as initial inspection might suggest. The seals on the boat leaked, and not in small quantities either. The design, however, ensured that those in the front row escaped almost completely dry, while those in the back row ended up soaked. Go figure.
After a lunch break, we tried the Kikkerrad ferris wheel. Most wheels are located to allow good views of surrounding attractions, especially those that cannot be easily seen from ground level. This wheel, however, was located so as to give two views only; one of treetops, and the other of hundreds of caravans. The whole experience might have been utterly pointless if we didn't have a birds eye view of the operator reprimanding one of the few dutch children in the park for throwing things from the wheel. He had almost hit us while waiting, and it was good to see him receive his just reward.
We did not want to leave without trying the Rodelbaan alpine slide. It had been closed earlier in the day due to rain, but reopened just as we approached. The ride was constructed with two parallel tracks to improve capacity. However, each side was running just ten sleds, which given the length of the ride meant that the queue was moving at a painfully slow rate. This wasn't helped by several attempts at queue jumping. On two occasions it was necessary for me to create a scene in order to remove a local who had climbed over the barrier. Tom managed to carefully position an elbow so that one prospective jumper received it in the face (oh, I'm sorry, did that hurt?). Nevertheless, it was simply not possible to catch everyone. One child who had managed to break in in front of us turned out to be too small to ride anyway, which was very amusing given that he had waited twenty minutes after jumping. The ride itself felt extremely out of control, so much so that I ended up applying the brake towards the end to stop the sled from flipping over. This is not something I have ever felt the need to do before, but the previous corners ninety degree turn had been a bit much for me considering the lack of seat belt!
31st May 2005
The general consensus between the three of us was that our five day visit to The Netherlands was a success. Not all the parks were ones we would make an effort to return to, but all were interesting in their own way. There were a number of things that we did discover that might prove useful to those planning Dutch trips in future:
Foreign Credit Cards; a number of the parks were not prepared to accept non-Dutch VISA cards. Fortunately I had a substantial supply of cash with me in a money belt, but those expecting to pay admission with plastic could potentially be caught out.
Navigation; In the past I have relied on maps to get to different parks by road. Some of the parks on this itinerary were located in the absolute middle of nowhere, and road closures we encountered would have totally thrown our planned routes. We were fortunate in that Tom had a GPS unit with him on the trip; without it, we would have been lost (pun intended).
Please feel free to contact me if you are planning your own trip and have questions. Until next time!