Report – A visit to the new semi-dark ride in Hellendoorn

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After an extended winter break due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the measures taken concerning the outbreak, the Dutch Avonturenpark Hellendoorn opened its doors on May 21st for the 2020-season. This season marked the opening of the upgraded ride Jungle Expedition – De Vervloekte Schat, which is a rethemed version of the old Jungle Monster ride. Especially the final indoor scene has been modified and divided into three scenes, which now classifies the ride as semi-dark ride. In order to experience this new ride Team DRdb visited the park on the 14th of June. In this report, you can read all about Jungle Expedition and also about the already existing interactive dark ride Discovery Club.

The history of Avonturenpark Hellendoorn goes all the way back to 1936, when a restaurant was opened on this location. By adding a playground and a maze, the restaurant slowly turned into the theme park as it is today. Storytelling has always been common practice for the park, which for example built a fairytale garden during the 1950s. Nowadays one of the park’s major rides is the Discovery Club, an interactive dark ride opened in 1999.

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The station of the upgraded Jungle Expedition ride

Jungle Expedition

For the 2020 season, the park upgraded their Jungle Monster ride into Jungle Expedition – De Vervloekte Schat (‘The Cursed Treasure’). The previous ride already entailed a themed boat ride where guests were invited on a tour through the jungle, which eventually brought them into a cave to face a giant monster. The refurbishment incorporated the addition of a new storyline about a cursed Mayan treasure, which eventually brings the visitors into a secret cave.

The ride originally opened as Junglevaart in 1979. The ride system was built by Mack Rides and consists of a free floating boat ride which takes ca 6 minutes. Most of the time, the ride is outdoors and passes along scenes of wild animals. In the end, the boats entered a tunnel in which native African people reside. For the 2001 season, the ride was renamed to Jungle Monster, in which an animatronic monster replaced the decor in the cave. In 2014, the monster broke down and was replaced with a new one in 2017, which was reused for Jungle Expedition.

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The station of the original Jungle Monster ride

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Scene from the Jungle Monster ride

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The upgraded monster in the Jungle Monster ride

The basis of this ride remains the same for the 2020 refurbishment, even though the outdoor scenes are upgraded for the new storyline. Moreover, the cave is split into three separate scenes where the ride’s storyline comes to a climax. Most of the scenes and animatronics, including the big monster, where incorporated in the upgraded ride. Another upgrade entails the addition of an on-board sound system in the boats.

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Jungle Expedition seen from above

For the 2020 upgrade the park incorporated a new storyline including a cursed Mayan treasure. The main characters of the new story are two of the park’s mascots: adventurer Roger Hellendoorn and his blue parrot, Kapitein Geelsnavel. Together they went into the jungle to explore the area and find a Mayan treasure. In the ride’s queue line, the characters are introduced via posters announcing that both are missing.

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Kapitein Geelsnavel and Roger Hellendoorn are missing, as can be seen in the queue line

Once riders board the boat, they are sent after Roger and Geelsnavel. Based on their spoken logbook, which is played onboard via a radio, riders try to follow their traces. Through deciphering messages written along along the route, using a Mayan alphabet which is shown inside the boat, guests can gather some extra hints on the destination of their journey.

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Start of the ride, with a secret message written on the bridge

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By means of this alphabet, riders can decipher the secret messages

After a short time, riders come along the crashed airplane of Roger and Geelsnavel, which is now home of a monkey family. Through the documents the monkeys hold in their hands, guests can get more clues on the special treasure they try to find. Throughout the following route, the boat passes along various jungle animals, some of which also took possession of some of Roger’s expedition documents.

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The airplane scene, which already existed, is now incorporated in the new storyline

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More secret messages are waiting to be deciphered

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More existing scenes were slightly altered to match the ride’s new storyline

After a while guests come closer to the treasure. They enter a secret cave where they find some Mayan artifacts, but shortly afterwards the curse is released and the riders face a giant spider which tries to attack them. Luckily, the guests escape from the spider and they find Roger trapped in the spider web. Roger can be rescued from the spider, however his parrot Geelsnavel remains missing. Guests are invited to look for him around the ride.

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The monster animatronic, which already existed, is now part of the Cursed Treasure scenes

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Roger Hellendoorn is caught in the big spider web

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Kapitein Geelsnavel can be found near the ride

Discovery Club

Apart from the upgraded semi-dark ride, Hellendoorn also features a major interactive dark ride which cannot be missed now we visit the park. This ride opened in 1999 by the name Château Christal, even though the name was quickly turned into Discovery Club. The ride system is built by Mack Rides and most of the theming is produced by Heimotion. The ride consists of vehicles which each transport four people. The cars spin in order to allow all riders to see most of the scenes and shoot most targets.

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The Discovery Club building

Discovery Club takes place inside a large dilapidated mansion. The mansion belongs to Professor Nulnix, an eccentric scientist who likes to gather artifacts from all around the world. He gathered many things and filled his entire cellar with such artifacts. However, lately one of the Professor’s experiments has gone wrong, and all artifacts have started moving since then. Riders are asked to walk downstairs, enter the cellar and shoot all moving artifacts in order to stop them from moving.

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The current entrance is located on the left side of the building, instead of using the main door

This storyline used to be explained through a pre-show. In the early days, there was a large garden in front of the mansion. Riders would walk across the garden and enter the mansion through its main doors. In the big hall there was a pre-show, and after that riders would walk down to the cellar where the ride is located. Nowadays however, the main hall is only open to visitors in Halloween season when it serves as horror maze. The garden is replaced by a playground which clearly shows the edges of the concrete plateau underneath which the ride is located. The ride entranced is now located on the side of the building, where guests enter immediately next to the themed stairs which lead them towards the ride’s station.

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The ride’s station in the cellar of the mansion

Despite the disappointing current entrance of the ride, the station and folloing ride are still well themed. When riders have taken their seats and have their guns ready, the car moves into the first room of artifacts. Guests encounter all kinds of animals, moving their heads, making noise, and are invited to shoot the many targets which can be found in the scene. From the first scene with animals, the ride continues into different rooms which each have their own theme – Professor Nulnix clearly sorted his collection well. There is a room with ancient Egyptian artifacts, including a giant sphinx head, and a room with all kinds of fish and other underwater features. Other rooms are themed in for example Chinese or American style. In all rooms, riders can shoot targets which results in extra noises or movements. At the end of the ride, riders can see their scores on a tv screen.

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The start of the ride in the wildlife room

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The Egyptian room, featuring a large Sphinx head

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Sculpture in the Chinese room

Apart from these two dark rides, Avonturenpark Hellendoorn contains a number of attractions which are typical for a theme park of regional scale: two major water rides, three roller coasters (one of them indoor) and a couple of smaller rides for both young and older children. Some rides already date way back, such as Jungle Expedition, but the park also includes rather new rides like the Dragon’s Nest. With its new upgrade, Jungle Expedition became more appealing and is now a worthy addition to the theme park. To us personally however, Discovery Club is the best ride of the park. This dark ride is well themed, if you overlook the current entrance, is rather long and gives a really nice ride experience. The ride really exceeds the level which might be expected from a dark ride in a regional park and is worth a visit for anyone who enjoys dark rides.

©2020 Dark Ride Database
All pictures by Dark Ride Database

Visit by Luc and Johan (14-06-2020), article by Luc