Today, I’m taking you to Wildlands, the newest zoo in the Netherlands. Wait… what? A zoo… why?! I know… This website is called Roller Coaster Traveller and not Giraffe Traveller or Monkey Traveller, but there’s still a good reason to visit this place. Wildlands is called an Adventure Zoo and designers added a few amusement park rides to the park. So get ready for a shiny new zoo, lots of animals and two new coaster credits.
I’m accompanied by Dennis, full-time magician and part-time Wildlands annual pass holder. He’s probably the best unofficial Wildlands guide and he knows the best route to discover the park. Our first stop of the day is Nortica, the coldest of the park’s three themed areas.
Nortica is also the smallest section of the park and it mainly consists of water and rocky surfaces.
Nortica’s cutest inhabitants are without any doubt these Magellanic Penguins.
You can see those cuties from up-close and they’re definitely not afraid of humans.
As I mentioned before, Wildlands Adventure Zoo features a few amusement park rides. And as you may notice on the next photo, they expected big crowds for those rides. This is the queue for Arctic 1, a rather mediocre 4D motion simulator. It’s not bad, but please skip it if the wait time is more than 15 minutes.
Penguins and polar bears, those are the must-see inhabitants of Nortica. The section is very small, so we quickly move over to the neighbouring area of Serenga.
Nortica was a little underwhelming to me, but the theming level at Serenga is considerably better. Serenga is huge and it consists of two big sections: an African village and the open plains.
Serenga has some small inhabitants…
… a few heavy inhabitants…
… rather ugly inhabitant…
… very slow inhabitants…
… Hakuna Matata inhabitants…
… and striped inhabitants.
The thing I like about Serenga is its theme park vibe. Although the theming is considerably less immersive, it really feels like a Dutch version of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Wildlands’ designers did everything they could to keep fences out of sight, which creates very naturally looking environments for the animals.
Africa in northern Holland.
The comparison between this park and Disney doesn’t end with the theming level. Wildlands even built a safari ride, just like Kilimanjaro Safaris in Orlando: Serenga Safari.
And once again, Wildlands expected the ride to be wildly popular. Fortunately, our wait time is limited to a mere 10 minutes.
Serenga Safari allows a closer look to the animals living in Wildlands’ savannah.
A very close look, actually. The ride may even be temporarily halted if those animals decide to stand on the road.
Should you encounter a queue for this attraction, you can skip it with peace of mind. The tour didn’t take us to places which aren’t visible from the main walkway and there aren’t any spectacular twists and turns. Even in a walk-on situation, you should ask yourself if you really want to board this slow-moving truck.
One of the most beautiful sights within Serenga is the Baboon Arena.
It feels as if this could be a scene in The Jungle Book.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom has got the Harambe Market, Wildlands has this cute little square. Honestly, the park really amazed me with its theming skills.
All good things come in pairs. These guys have two humps…
… and this rollercoaster has two tracks!
Tweestryd is every coaster enthusiast’s main reason to visit Wildlands Adventure Zoo. Its name is the African word for duel and that makes sense: this is a double Family Boomerang coaster manufactured by Vekoma.
Tweestryd was opened in the spring of 2018 and it has attracted many coaster fans since then. Most of them seemed to agree on the fact that it’s a very decent ride. Me too: I never really liked those Family Boomerangs, but the racing aspect definitely adds some fun to the overall experience.
Still, I’m not sure whether Tweestryd was the right addition for Wildlands. Zoo visitors aren’t necessarily coaster lovers and this high-capacity ride doesn’t seem to be that popular. Although I really like the fact that it’s a duelling coaster, one single track may have been a better option in this particular case.
Our both coaster credits are gained, but there’s more to discover. Wildlands’ third and final themed area is Jungola, an exotic land full of mystic temples and lush vegetation.
Exhibits at modern zoos may look stunning, but it’s often hard to actually find an animal in these natural environments.
A zoo isn’t a zoo if it doesn’t have elephants.
Is he called Colonel Hathi, Tantor or Dumbo? Or should I just consider myself a Disney geek? (It’s retorical, please don’t answer)
Ehm… this looks… peaceful?
The best part of the Jungola section is the so-called Rimbula. This indoor area mimmicks a tropical rainforest with exotic vegetation and a fitting temperature. Summer feeling in October… nice!
The main draw within this conservatory is Rimbula River, a boat ride built by Mack Rides. The scenery is wonderful, but I wish you’d see more animals during the cruise.
It’s actually easier to check out the animals while climbing Rimbula’s rope course.
Suspension bridges and painfully slow children… it’s not the ideal combination. However, I praise Wildlands for Rimbula’s smart design and the fact that it’s more than just a zoo.
And suddenly, we’re back at the Compass Square, the park’s main hub. We’re planning a few hours at the nearby Slagharen later this afternoon, so it’s almost time to say goodbye to Wildlands. Did I like this place? Yes, I did. The park is beautiful and this doesn’t feel like an old-fashioned zoo where animals are put in cages. It’s sometimes hard to find the animals in their huge exhibits, but that doesn’t bother me too much. The amusement park rides are nice gimmicks, but don’t seem essential for the total experience. Especially Tweestryd feels a little out of place here at Wildlands and I’m not sure whether these attractions will draw extra crowds. Of course, I hope I’m wrong. How awesome would it be to have some kind of Busch Gardens here in the Netherlands? Let’s see in 15 years…
To be continued at Attractiepark Slagharen.