It is fair to say
that Efteling is one of the highest regarded parks in the whole of
Europe. Kudos so deserved, in fact, that the park is one of only a few
in Europe to have won the almost cult-like following of hardcore
Dream Flight and Villa Volta are alone the attractions that
bring the park soaring high above the others with regards to quality
of theming and plot apparently prompting even the late Walt Disney to
visit Europe’s land of the fairies.
The unswerving followers were rather keyed up by the
announcement of Vogel Rok (Bird Rock), a ride that completely exuded
of promise and potential. This enclosed family coaster would take
shape towards the back of the park, not a million miles from the other
Aficionados were fairly thwarted by the finished
attraction, something that apparently lacked the magic of Efteling, a
ride lacking the individuality that had become Efteling’s trademark.
This seemed to be something the park later picked up on, making
improvements to both the queue-line, and the uninspiring ride itself.
The entrance to the ride is like nothing done before – a
huge bird stands guard, and big enough is this bird that you can walk
beneath it’s legs under it’s continually oscillating and craned
head, behind the strange baron-land behind this oversized-fowl before
entering the building itself.
Hidden way back away from view, a conical thatched roof
covers the ride. In a baffling ‘flaw’, this spectacular
alternative to a corrugated tin roof has been put so far back, it can
only be seen from the service road behind the park.
Inside, the first view may be pretty apathetic, but it does
get better, much better. A hall with a long zig-zagging queue line
will take a good three-quarters of an hour. On the walls, paladin
lighting hidden behind a wave like décor mutedly lights the room,
something which although is nicely done, is hardly worthy of
entertaining you for nearly an hour.
Soon, the lights dim, and music crescendos to righteously
loud volumes as the tale of Bird Rock is told. Using a fantastically
emotional track, a superb display of choreographed lighting,
projections and lasers is used in one of the most original queue-line
shows I have ever seen before.
The queue continues down to one of the improvements made by
mass-grumblings by visitors. A short darkened window looks onto the
ride. The ride though is so dark that it is impossible to make out the
train in the darkness, unless it comes right past, something it seldom
The final part of this oversized queue takes place in the
station in the form of more zig-zagging. The Arabian theming consists
of drapes hanging from the ceiling and amber glowing lights hanging
from arches above.
Two trains settle in the station at a time, one loading and
unloading, and one waiting for riders to leave. The trains are
frequent here, and although the queue may well be fast, it is not
worth the effort to hold back for a front or back seat ride as
positions in the train vary little. When the train arrives, riders
leave away from you and you are able to board.
Seats are comfortable, and for a so-called family ride,
roomy. Riders have separate lap bars too, so that you can be snugly
secured with even the largest of riders company.
The train leaves before turning around a sharp right hand
bend before the on-board music begins, swelling as the train starts
the silent, tyre-driven lift-hill. The inky blackness is interjected
by a laser fanning the top of the train from behind prompting many
riders to lift their arms up into the air breaking the delicate beams
of light with their outstretched digits.
As you approach the top of the lift, to your left large
four birds are seen swooping in flight below you, before you coil over
the top of the lift and swoop off to the left in a smooth sweeping
turn down towards the ground in complete darkness.
At the bottom you enter a long helix, at which point a
strobe light from the on-ride camera briefly breaks the darkness.
It takes no time before you are going at full speed and are
beginning a returning curve past a bird which eerily lights up in the
darkness, the same effect which can be seen (occasionally) from the
queue-line and into another turn that sends you careering into the
mid-course brake-run where it is shrouded in a revolving barrel of
lasers that barely envelops the train.
This is an incredible effect, and leaves you wondering how
it was done. Before you can even ruminate, you realise what little
effect the brakes have had before you lunge out from the brake run
sharply to the right.
You plunge into another spectacular helix, before you pass
through a flurry of lasers and strobes, passing just a stone's throw
away from the diamonds before bouncing up onto the brake run.
When leaving you try and understand the frustration of
Efteling devotees. I find it hard though, as whilst perhaps by it’s
very nature it is slightly inferior to Villa Volta and Dream Flight,
it still carries on the legacy of Efteling to fervent extremes.
Looking at the coaster on its own, you see a display of
what Vekoma is proficient enough to create – each curve and turn is
well engineered to provide a smooth, potent ride with enough kick to
annihilate any chance of a dead spot.
The effects on the ride are what have been causing many to
come off expecting more. As far as I am concerned, leaving the ride
you feel that you have ridden a dark ride (emphasis on ‘dark’)
with some extraordinary and creative effects, well designed not to
intrude too much on your enjoyment of the ride. Each effect sets the
plot, yet if too many effects were to be used, many would be missed so
that the plot would become unclear.
The queue line show sends shivers down your back with
it’s perfectly measured effects, the ride is a nice smooth family
coaster, no thrills and not too busy. Far more worthy of kudos than it
has been receiving.
▪ A good family coaster
▪ Nice special effects
▪ Excellent pre-show in
the queue line
▪ Original theming
▪ Theming isn't quite to
the level of some other Efteling attractions
▪ A very short coaster