Behind the scenes preview of renewed dark ride Stalen Monsters

The Dutch Railway Museum (het Spoorwegmuseum) is to reopen Stalen Monsters (Steel Monsters) today. This 15 year old dark ride closed last month for a renovation. Parts of the ride system were replaced and new show techniques were installed. Yesterday we met with Evertjan de Rooij in het Spoorwegmuseum, for a walk through of the ride, to show us the new features.

During a large renovation in 2005, the museum added  a couple theme park experiences, such as the walkthrough ‘The Great Discovery’, a show called ‘Dream Travels’ and a dark ride ‘Steel Monsters’, with a ride system made by KumbaK. After 15 years of operation, this ride system required a revision. The technical service of the museum replaced parts that were nearing their end of life cycle, to make sure the ride will continue to operate. Meanwhile, they stored spare parts that they believe will be hard to come by in the future. This was all part of a major refurbishment which was already planned.

The park is still finetuning the ride while we get a sneak preview

The new entrance of the ride

Together with this refurbishment, the museum decided to enhance the experience of the ride by improving the show control and lighting system. Moreover, the museum decided to change the ride’s storyline. In the previous version, riders would enter the ride through the attic of grandpa Harry Gommers. The Gommers family has worked on the railroads for three generations and grandpa is telling his grandson stories about his work. Grandpa Gommers has his own personal museum in the attic, which can be viewed during the queue line. The story was being told in the form two animatronics, which were however turned off for years as they scared little children. Eventually, riders would enter the ride and be taken on a journey along the railyard. According to Evertjan, the major issue with the storyline was the moment between the attic and the ride. The audience was not able to link the story that was told in the queue line with the ride.

Het Spoorwegmuseum removed the animatronics, but kept the setting in the attic. They placed a screen that will show a quiz to the people in line. A question will always be related to an object in the room and the object will be put in a spotlight. After the quiz queue line, the riders will enter a small room where a short animation will be shown as a pre-show. During the animation riders will go back in time, and finally they are told that they will take a journey along the railyard. This new quiz/storyline will have a better relation with the main ride than before.

This compilation picture of railway workers welcomes visitors to the ride

The atmosphere of the attic remained the same, though a screen with a quiz replaced the animatronics

Visitors get grouped into vehicles before entering the ride’s new pre-show

According to Evertjan, the ride is dedicated to all different professions along the railway throughout the centuries. When riders enter the queue, they see a large compilation of pictures of different railway workers like conductors, porters, signalmen, drivers and mechanics. All these professions come back at the end of the ride. This final scene used to show a celebration of Grandpa Gommers’s 40 years of service at the railways. In the new ride, the scene is dedicated to the various railway professions, concluding the ride’s storyline.

The new final scene, including pictures from the compilation in the queue. Behind the laptop is Hester Kloosterboer, the designer of the ride, who is working on fine tuning the ride.

Lagotronics Projects was brought in by the museum to renew the show techniques. Stalen Monsters features many genuine steam engines and train stock. In many cases, the lighting of the scenes were improved, to make certain museum pieces better stand out in the scene. Meanwhile, new decorations were added to walls that were black before, showing trains and interiors of workshops. Projections on these murals will make them come to life during the ride. These projections will add a more dynamic dimension to the ride.

Improved lighting of the scenes make some museum pieces, like this steam locomotive, more visible during the ride

Projections will be added to create a more dynamic ride. Fine-tuning work was still in progress this morning.

The starting of the ride: the black wall is decorated with a large image of trains, projections are also added on this wall

Stalen Monsters will open to the public today (December 8th 2020). Het Spoorwegmuseum is located in the former Maliebaan train station in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Apart from the dark ride Stalen Monsters, the museum also includes the show ride De Vuurproef, which was highlighted in one of our specials.

One of the scenes during the ride. The overhead crane is also made more visible.

We also get a look in the the technique of the ride, such as this turntable which is also a vertical lift

The bottom part of the vertical lift with its elevating cylinder

A look inside the ride’s workshop

Ride vehicles stored in the workshop

Detail of the ride vehicle. Each wheel has its own engine. The sensors in the front communicate with the track, accelerating or decelerating the vehicle when necessary.