Sven: Get ready for a magical update! In the Netherlands, there is blooming theme park that really stepped up its game with the opening of not one, but two new themed areas. But most importantly, in one of those areas, there is big brand new coaster that’s deliciously fun. A few days after opening, we visited Fenix at Toverland!
– Over the years, many of our images have popped up on other sites and forums, awesome that our coverage spreads, not so awesome that not everyone mentioned where they got the images from. We are totally fine with our audience using our images, BUT ONLY IF credit is given to californiacoasterkings.com. Thank you! –
In short, Toverland started out as a small indoor theme park. After adding a second indoor hall, they started expanding outside with the very first Vekoma motorbike coaster, Booster Bike, and then one of the best wooden coasters in the world: Troy! They continued expanding outside with the “Magische Vallei” (Magical Valley) which added another splendid coaster, Dwervelwind. Toverland, which can be translated as Magic Land, had a more childish impression as a theme park. Now however, they wanted to grow up and as they added a big new entrance area and a new themed area with a B&M Wing Coaster plus a boat ride. This to improve their image to become a park for everyone, truly the start of a growing future. Let’s start out with the new entrance!
The former entrance of the park, which will still be used in the winter for now, was at the first indoor hall. The size isn’t that big, so with the ambition that they have, it was time for something new. The designer team (consisting of 3 people with Peter Van Holstein as head designer) started thinking and came up with Port Laguna. This port inspired area is not your typical main street. But before we go there, let’s have a look at the new gates and facilities.
The colorful style invites you in what seems a brand new theme park. On the floor, they have the beautiful mosaic of the new park’s font design. To the right, you have several ticket boots, while on the left side there are nicely themed facilities. At the gates itself, you have a right side which can be opened up for events, while the other gates can receive plenty of guests on busy days.
As mentioned, not a main street but something that compares to the entrance area of Port Aventura where you walk counter clockwise around a central area. Here, that area is not a pond but a beach style playground with room for a show and seating. Right in front of you, is a new skyline defining building: Solaris!
Solaris is a type of lighthouse tower which actually works in the dark. Below, you can buy delicious ice cream! A signature one is still on its way due to competition to send in your proposition. For now, they already have a special treat: the Bubble Waffle Ice Cream. Available in four ways, including tropical fruits which fits the theme perfectly!
It’s clear that Port Laguna has a tropical, Mediterranean style with bright colors to counter grey weather, quite a common sight for the Netherlands. They admit that they took some elements from the well-known Universal Park: Islands of Adventures. Yet they gave it their own touch which worked out very well. It’s cozy, it’s inviting, a perfect resting place during the day. For now, they don’t have a show which will bring people back to the area except for entering and exiting the park. A big element that enhances the atmosphere is the music from IMAscore. Unfortunately, the CD is not yet available as they still have to write some extra pieces.
Besides regular shops, games and food stands, there is one other special experience: Magiezijn. Here, they copied the Ollivander’s experience as you can buy a wand to interact with some of the windows. The little show has a queue with an animatronic, a parrot called Ivy. When it talks, the voice really sounds similar to the voice of park director’s daughter Tessa Maessen.
The show itself however, is one of the few critiques that we can give on this 41 million dollar (35 million euro / 31 million pound) expansion. You enter a room full of objects and bottles. The story of the area gets briefly explained: the Magistralis family has been guarding the Port Laguna for centuries. Regularly, new bottles of magic wash up on this port which can contain either good or less good magic. The family member takes some of those bottles and lets guests read the papers inside. Some spells are better than others. We had one where the mermaid attached to the wall started singing, but not quite in tune. The final one however opens up a shell with a large pearl. Mind you that guests never get a wand to perform the magic from the bottles. So they miss out on attaching the wand to someone to later buy it. Conclusion is that the show is still a bit of a mess, which should be fine-tuned in the future.
One last thing before we go to Avalon. Port Laguna is clearly a central hub which allows you to go towards the other areas of the park, but also the future ones. It’s clear that on the left side, everything is still quite open. But the land behind it, is already owned by Toverland. So expect not only a hotel but expansions there in the future too! For now, you can use it to go towards Ithaka (the Troy area), Magische Vallei and the brand new lane towards Avalon!
Speaking of the Magische Vallei, that area has a rapid river ride called Djengu River. What’s the deal? Well the station is now visible from all sides so they are now installing extra rock work!
First of all, this little lane really impressed me on how much this park has changed. The outdoor area probably doubled in size, if not more, with these expansions. What they claim is true, Toverland went to adulthood and I’m sure it will grow to be an ever bigger competitor for Efteling. Walking further, you get closer to a blue track hiding between the trees… The Fenix waits for its guests in the new Avalon.
The name Avalon refers to the legend of Merlin. Since the beginning of the park, the owners wanted to do something with this big legendary magician. Only now, they dared to use the character in this brand new area. You enter and see the sword in the stone with quite a pond behind it.
We’ll start on the right side to keep the best for last. Here you have the boat house of something Toverland has never really done before. The new attraction, Merlin’s Quest, is on one side a boat ride through the area and it’s also a dark ride. Underneath the Fenix station and queue, they have an indoor part with three scenes. Merlin’s Quest is actually about finding Tir na nÓg, the Fountain of Eternal Life. Once you experienced a bit of soothing time close to Fenix, the gates open… Watch out, spoilers ahead!
The first scene is a nice introduction with an animatronic and a blue tunnel. Here, they have a mist effect on the water that’s incredibly nice to see. You then continue on to Merlin and an area full of books. The only regret for this scene: Merlin is not an animatronic but a projection. On one hand a shame, but on the other hand it’s the first time the park is doing this. Who knows in the future if they will put an actual one, but for now, you get used to it when you reride. Because let’s not forget how beautiful the area is with once again mist, towering books and floating objects. Merlin opens up the gates and you sail towards Tir na nÓg!
This final area has an even more magical feel to it. First of all because of the mist and lighting which mysteriously takes you into the world. Secondly, the animatronics and figures are wood creatures and elves that look stunning. So once again, beautiful to float through. At the end, there is the fountain with a mermaid playing the harp. She’s static, which could have been better. Yet, what they did here craves for a full dark ride by the park in the future.
You sail back outside and pass by our next stop: the Flaming Feather! The first table service restaurant of the park! We decided do lunch there and we’re not disappointed. It does have the old “pub” feel with a nice working fireplace!
The front window is also beautiful, but the only downside is that the lighting is pretty dark. We sat in one of the corners next to the fireplace, where it was hard to read the menu.
The toilets really invite you too as they represent the stables next to the pub. The food itself was very good price quality! The spare ribs for example were delicious! You can also order beer with Grimbergen matching perfectly, as the logo is also a phoenix. Back outside, you see that they also added a little playground and water play area. Something Toverland has a lot, as it gives that extra touch for children.
Okay folks, get ready cause we’re about to take off on our flight! Below a little tower, you find a cave leading to the chambers of Merlin. A very dark area, maybe even a bit too dark. Lighting wise, they’ll have to review some of the indoor areas for sure. You take a spiral stair down, just like in Harry Potter, to the deeper part of the queue. Here there is an area with talking portraits, where we did not stand as there was almost no queue during our visit. After selecting your seats (front or other), you arrive at the area below the tower. There is a scene here with Merlin talking about the phoenix and its resurrecting powers. Here once again you need to choose: left or right side?
If you chose front seat, then you will get a small metal feather before entering the station. This is your front seat ticket because only people offering it will get to ride there. Why is this necessary? Well, when the other people go up the station, they can also queue up for front in the station itself. Obviously, they won’t be allowed on because they did not wait the extra time. Unfortunately, there is no sign (yet) stating the rules so it confused some people.
But let’s talk about the station! Compared to the other European Wing Coasters, it seems smaller. An effect that fits with the coaster and story. The operators on top are well decorated with frames, another lovely way hide all those screens. Yet the Swarm’s upside down caravan remains the best. Once you’re buckled in, the train leaves into a black painted area. Clearly they planned a scene here but due to time and budget, they will add it later.
When you climb up the steep lifthill, adrenaline starts running through the veins. The higher you climb, the better the view on the area which is incredibly green! Unique for this coaster is the turn to the right once you are on top before twisting upside down in the Dive Drop. An element which you experience best in left seating.
You go down to go towards the other side of the area by means of an airtime hill. A real pleaser!
This leads up via a near miss tunnel to the second Immelman inversion which turns into a big helix. In the center, there is a cute stone circle in a swampy area. The helix is pretty intense, especially back seat which results in black outs! This element feels the best on the right side, because you’re close to the ground.
You continue back to the former side of Avalon through a tunnel via the third inversion: a Zero-G Roll. When you are just watching the coasters, it’s always cool to see these type inversions on a Wing Coaster.
Via a banked turn with a little bit of air time, you go into another helix to go into the brake run. What a ride! The longest Wing Coaster in Europe, even though it feels shorter than other similar length coasters due to its speed of 59 mph (90 km/h). Is it my favorite European Wing Coaster? For me no, because it lacks the near-miss elements which are what makes Raptor as a whole only a tad better. Yet, it is probably my favorite coaster in the Benelux!
I already compared left and right side, but want to emphasize that the back rows are pretty intense! That’s what makes this wing so special, its power! Plus, the theming surrounding it is stunning!
Did I mention the beautiful color scheme of the ride?
Also important to mention is that we saw park director Caroline Kortooms at least four times! Staff were everywhere throughout the park to check the new areas, improve the guest experience and more. So expect improvements in the future as they like to fine-tune everything. The park is clearly being run with passion which we can only encourage. Besides the staff, we also saw Merlin himself!
We can thus conclude that Toverland did something astounding with this expansion. It feels like a new theme park, even though it exists almost 17 years now. The area’s aren’t perfect but near and for the budget plus the size of the park, they expanded in a way we rarely see. We invite everyone to plan a visit, especially taking in account their coaster line up too so go ahead and discover your own magic!
Thank you for checking out this Toverland report! We’re currently working on merging European Coaster Kings with California Coaster Kings, so stay tuned for more information coming soon!
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