Spotlight on: Symbolica

In case you've been living under a rock for the past year or so, Symbolica is the new trackless dark ride soon-to-open at Efteling! The ride is from a company called ETF who are also responsible for such attractions as Maus au Chocolat at Phantasialand and Hotel Transylvania at Motiongate in Dubai. It's a stunning looking attraction and probably one of the best looking dark rides in a long time. Every update has left me just gagging for more, so I thought today we could take a look the ride step by step from concept to creation.

So, let's turn the clocks back to 2010, when Efteling announced plans for an exciting new dark ride to open in the 2012 season. The ride was to be an elaborate attraction themed to the court of Pardoes (the park's jester mascot) called Hartenhof and was rumoured to utilise a new dark ride design from Vekoma called the Pandora's Box. On paper it sounded really ambitious and exciting, and the buzz had well and truly begun for this exciting new proposal!

Only...well, things didn't really go to plan. A bit of time passed and the ride was postponed until 2013. When Aquanura, the park's night time water show, was announced as the park's anniversary attraction for 2012 it was clear Hartenhof was going nowhere, and Efteling confirmed that the ride was being delayed until 2015. Then again when plans for a big coaster to open in 2014 came to light the park confirmed that the attraction wouldn't come to fruition until sometime between 2016-2020. So yh, not exactly the most solid of foundations to begin with.

When the park finally announced a new version of the dark ride plans, called Symbolica, on Jan 11 2016, fans remained skeptical. And who can blame them? After so many years of being let down and delay after delay it almost seemed too good to be true that this was finally happening.

But turns out, there was nothing to fear! Shortly after the announcement it was confirmed that actual construction had already started and our gauges switched from skeptical to intrigued and excited. More details soon came pouring out, including that the Pandora's Box idea seemed to have been ditched in favour on a trackless ride system and that the ride would last an impressive 6-7 minutes - much longer than its Disney counterparts. It was also highlighted that this would be more along the lines of the classic dark ride style that Efteling seem to embrace so much - that meant no guns and no 3D glasses. Basically, this ride would be all about the theming!

By June 2016 it was clear work was well underway. Most of the structure had been completed and turrets were beginning to appear. By Autumn 2016 most of the exterior was complete! And wow, this thing is absolutely stunning! It fits perfectly into Efteling's muted tones and looking like it's jumped straight from the pages of an old storybook and does remarkably well to hide the show building considering the ride is placed smack bang in the middle of the park. The intricate rock work, the stunning details on the towers - if the exterior was anything to go by then we couldn't wait to see what was going on inside!


Late 2016 and some more concept art of the interior emerged. Damn, looks like something straight out of a fairytale. Honestly, would you expect anything less from Efteling?

In Feb 2017 a few shots of the final finished show building taken from the Flying Island ride revealed how much of the show building could actually be seen. A lot of other parks wouldn't bother to cover this up, but not Efteling! Plans showed that the park intended on creating a palace roof garden, to reduce the dingy warehouse vibes and generally make it more beautiful. Obviously!


March came rolling around and finally a proper glimpse inside. And holy shit. Look at it! It's absolutely beautiful, like an Efteling-ified version of the Reptile Room from A Series Of Unfortunate events.

Come April 2017 and boom! More sneaky peeks into the inside of Symbolica, this time focusing on 'The King's Chamber' where it's rumoured the ride vehicles will 'dance' around the room. I can't believe how stunning this is, and this isn't even when it's showlit! Alongside these interior shots, it was finally announced that Symbolica will be opening on 1st July 2017.

And that about brings us up to date! I'll continue to watch this project closely and continue to be wowed with every new glimpse of the ride that the park seed out to us. I think when you know a bit more about the background of where this park comes from it gives the project more gravitas, and coupled with just how beautiful the thing is it's hard not to call it one of the most exciting dark ride projects ever.

I'm not getting a chance to ride until December this year, but I absolutely cannot wait. I love a good trackless dark ride and considering how open Efteling have been with construction updates I'm very excited to see what tricks the park have up their sleeve with this one!

Talk later xoxo,