Sevenum, The Netherlands
“How an indoor playground became a first-class coaster destination”
Toverland isn’t the world’s most famous amusement park and that’s an understatement. Most of my non-theme park loving friends don’t know the park at all, but that’s actually not surprising. When Toverland opened in 2001, it was some kind of indoor playground for children. Everyone over the age of 12 was just too old for this kind of amusement park. But times have changed and during the past decade, Toverland added lots of new rides and the theming level went up dramatically. The park’s largest expansion happened in 2018, as Toverland presented an impressive B&M Wing Coaster and two brand-new themed lands. Nowadays, the park offers a total of five roller coasters and most of them are integrated in elaborately themed areas.
Bolliger & Mabillard is a manufacturer that delivers world-class roller coasters. These machines are usually reserved for large theme parks. B&Ms require big investments and most medium-sized parks just can’t spend that much money. Or at least, that’s what I thought. Toverland attracts approximately 700,000 visitors every year, which is a rather low number compared to other theme parks in Europe. Despite this limited attendance, Toverland became the 13th European park with a B&M. It was placed in the park’s Avalon section and it’s named Fēnix.
Let’s cut to the chase: Fēnix is amazing. This coaster’s clear blue tracks look stunning and the ride experience is even better than I expected. It’s smooth, it’s fast and above all: it’s very intense. Especially the helix after the second inversion is filled with g-forces and I greyed out during every single ride. Some may say that Fēnix is pretty short, but I’d rather call it to the point. After riding Flug der Dämonen, Raptor, Wild Eagle and GateKeeper, Fēnix definitely became my favourite B&M Wing Coaster. The coaster is great, the station and queue are themed brilliantly and wait times are usually short. Avalon feels like Heaven.
Avalon is definitely the highlight at Toverland, but the park already offered some pretty good rides before 2018. At De Magische Vallei (The Magic Valley) for example, you’ll find a magnificent Mack spinning coaster called Dwervelwind. This roller coaster looks rather tame, but it’s a lot more intense than you might think. Thanks to its smoothness and a great onboard soundtrack, this is easily one of the best coasters in The Netherlands. And let’s not forget to mention Troy, the park’s famous wooden coaster built by GCI. Troy is often considered as one of Europe’s greatest woodies. The layout is surprisingly long, the trains maintain high speeds and the ride looks very impressive. So please don’t think that Fēnix is the only valid reason to put Toverland on your bucket list; the park has a lot more to offer.
Toverland was once an indoor theme park, which made it especially attractive on rainy days. Nowadays, 75 percent of the park is located outdoors, which makes a visit in summer considerably more interesting. Toverland even provides a good amount of water-based attractions. The park offers a few water playgrounds, a log flume and a rapid river. The rapid river is a little weak, in my opinion. Djengu River is built by Hafema and this German manufacturer is notorious for its tame rafting rides. Toverland did a great job with the ride’s theming and IMAscore provided a lovely soundtrack, but it can’t compete with most Intamin rapid rivers.
Expedition Zork is Toverland’s log flume and this one’s pretty intense. The ride offers three turntables, a small backward drop and a 15-metre final descent. This big drop is located outdoors, but most of the layout can be found in an indoor area called Wunderwald. Water rides always look a bit bizarre if they’re placed indoors and that’s not any different here at Toverland. Still, Expedition Zork is one of the better log flumes in the Netherlands.
Fēnix isn’t the only attraction in Avalon. Toverland also built a beautiful new boat ride called Merlin’s Quest. This ride is everything but thrilling and it may even seem boring to some visitors. However, the ride features a stunning dark ride part, which is hidden underneath Fēnix’ station. Don’t expect any Disney-like atmosphere, but the theming is surprisingly nice. So make sure to pay a visit to Merlin’s Quest between all those Fēnix rides.
Toverland offers several carousels and playgrounds for children, while adults should definitely consider a visit to the rope course. It’s a lot more challenging than you might think and it’s included in park admission. Be there early, though. The rope course has an extremely low capacity and it isn’t worth a 1-hour queue.
WORTH A VISIT?
Toverland once was a playground for toddlers, but it became a top class theme park destination in less than 20 years. Toverland even feels like an entirely new park since the addition of Port Laguna and Avalon. This may be a bold statement, but Toverland’s newest areas actually remind me of Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Port Laguna manages to create an exotic vibe similar to Universal’s Port of Entry and Avalon looks like a Dutch alternative to The Wizarding World. Of course, this is meant as a huge compliment. Thanks to Toverland’s steady level of theming and the surprisingly awesome coaster collection, I thoroughly enjoyed this visit and I hope to be back again soon. With kind regards from a brand-new Toverland fanboy.
LAND VAN TOOS
Is this one of Europe’s most underrated parks? Do you agree that Fēnix looks absolutely stunning? And don’t you think that Toverland is ready for a big dark ride? Share your thought in the comments section at the bottom of this page.