In the summer of 2017, Dutch theme park Efteling opened a whole new dark ride: Symbolica – Palace of Fantasy. This is Efteling’s fourth dark ride and the first one in twenty five years. It is also Efteling’s most expensive attraction ever built. I know what you’re going to say. I’m incredibly late to the reviewing party but here is finally my nitpicky Quality Control of Symbolica. Abracadabra!
The genesis of the Symbolica project actually started around 2010. Efteling has been working for years on a very different style of dark ride code-named Hartenhof, based on Pardoes the wizard, the mascot of the park. The original storyline revolved around the universe and characters developed for the live action TV series De Magische Wereld van Pardoes, which aired for the first time in 2011. But the most exciting part was certainly the innovative ride system. Think of it as a slow moving robot arm à la Harry Potter and the forbidden journey that can carry an audience of twenty-four people instead of four. The underwhelming public reaction to the TV show and merchandise sales led Efteling to put the Hartenhof project aside for years, in favor of Fairytale Forsest, day-time show Raveleijn, night time fountain show Aquanura and dive coaster Baron 1898. Make sure to google Hartenhof because Efteling released a lot of work material back then, including scale models, artworks and blueprints.