Baron Gustave Hooghmoed is an anti-hero of the Baron 1898 roller coaster, which opened in 2015 at the Efteling theme park in the Netherlands.
In 1893, adventurer Gustave Hooghmoed visited an inn in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant. He sat secluded in a corner, not speaking to anyone, and staring at his world map, on which the places Gustave had been to (including China, South Africa, the Northwest US and Peru) were circled. A young waiter named Jochem noticed him and was amazed when he heard about Gustave's travels. However, Gustave had a problem: he had to catch a ship to South America within two days to return to his beloved, an impossible task according to him.
Jochem suggested taking the adventurer through the Swampy Heath and the High Forest so that he would arrive in time. Everyone around the two turned to them, startled, and went silent. The waitress Doortje warned them about spirits, the "Witte Wieven" (according to a Dutch legend, the spirits of wise women) that controlled the area and were dragging people down. However, Jochem emphasized that he knew the area and Gustave was also unimpressed and did not believe Doortje.
So Jochem showed the adventurer the way through the heath. After a short time, dark clouds appeared in the sky and a strong wind swept across the heath, warning the two that they wanted to enter the witch's hump, a cave. While Jochem preferred to turn back, Gustave went into the cave. He had spotted gold, a lump of which he put in his coat pocket. The Witte Wieven attacked him because they were protecting the gold, and Gustave was not seen by anyone for a long time. According to the baron's own statement, his love from South America had already forgotten him. Whether he still traveled to South America is unknown.
Five years later, the seemingly lost adventurer returned to the inn and introduced himself as Baron Hooghmoed. He now wore a full beard, a bowler hat, expensive clothes and a monocle. Hooghmoed told Jochem that he planned to build a gold mine on the heathland.
Only a few weeks after Hooghmoed's return, the construction of the mine was already in full swing and the shafts were dug deeper and deeper. However, more and more unusual coincidences happened, triggered by the Witte Wieven. Fog was gathering in the shafts, blood was pouring out of the walls, spiders of all sizes were crawling in the mine, and some miners found a skeleton attacking the workers. Rats and ghosts also frightened the workers. Despite the coincidences and the increasing protests of the workers, the baron stuck to his plan, greedy for the gold.
After only a few months, the mine was built and opened with a big celebration, to which Jochem and Doortje were also invited. To reassure people who had heard about the coincidences of the mine's construction, he decided to drive down into the mine himself. He asked Jochem to accompany him this time. Doortje was worried about Jochem and advised him against the suggestion, but Jochem agreed somewhat uncertainly.
Both climbed into the mine elevator and let themselves be driven down. They entered the shaft with breathtaking speed. Jochem was impressed by its size, but also shocked because he knew about the spirits. While the Baron was engrossed in chiseling out a nugget of gold, Jochem noticed the sound of one of the spirits and the mist described by the miners. He drew the baron's attention to the fog, through which a shaft also began to collapse. Both of them now ran away in fear of the fog and the collapsing shaft and, covered in dust, only narrowly escaped, but were stuck in the mine with no way out.
At first, the guests didn't notice what was happening underground, and the celebration was in full swing. Suddenly, an explosion from the mine building startled the guests and they all ran away. However, Doortje thought of Jochem and the Baron and made his way to the end of the shaft with a pickaxe. Luckily she was able to free them both with the pickaxe.
After this adventure, the Baron gave Jochem, who wanted to travel around the world, a sack with money and his world map. While Doortje and Jochem got ready for a trip around the world, Hooghmoed planned to rebuild his mine despite the impending danger and recruited new workers with a nugget of gold.
The visitors now slip into the role of the recruited miners and are sent into the mine building in two groups. Each group consists of 18 people, so 36 visitors enter the station at a time. First you get into a small room where the visitors are waiting for the start of the first pre-show. Here you can see a commemorative stone for the laying of the foundation stone, as well as a bust of Baron Gustave Hooghmoed and an antique clock with a matching cabinet.
As soon as everything is ready, the doors open and the visitors enter the room of the first pre-show. This room is set up as a washroom with tiled walls and work clothes hanging from the ceiling. In the center of the room is a depression in the floor that contains, among other things, a dressing room bench and a running gramophone. Two screens are mounted above the doors to the first waiting room, onto which, among other things, English translations of what is said are projected during the show. In the show, Gustave Hooghmoed (voiced by actor Paul van Gorcum) talks about his mine, welcomes visitors and is happy that new miners want to join him. Suddenly a hatch in the wall opens and three Witte Wieven float in. They warn the would-be miners and advise them not to go any further.
The Baron gets angry and orders the guests to proceed to the payroll. The second pre-show takes place there.
The visitors first go up a flight of stairs and pass a small office. On the first floor, in the payroll office, there are three counters with a balcony above them. The Baron is now standing on this balcony in form of an animatronic. He gives the visitors the final safety instructions for the upcoming trip. At one of the walls of this room are three doors (one for each row of seats). An employee now accepts the previously distributed tickets from the first team, whereupon the members of the team line up in rows of six in front of the assigned door. The three doors open and the train waiting behind them is boarded. Then the second team and the next train are dealt with in the same way.
Baron 1898 has a so-called "Chicken Exit" for visitors who don't want to venture onto the actual roller coaster but only want to see the pre-shows. To do this, you inform the employee at the end of the queue that you do not want to ride and then you receive a special ticket. With this ticket you can then leave the attraction again past the train.
The actual station is modeled after a factory floor, with plumbing on the walls and a large iron gate just above the rails in front of the coaster train.
If all passengers are properly secured, the iron gate opens and the train rolls into another room. On the side there is a large steam engine and some boilers. The Witte Wieven appear again and sing a final warning.
The train drives out of the station into the open air and is now transported up the 45-degree steep lift hill (which is based on a winding tower) to a height of 30 meters within 15 seconds. At the top, the train slows down for about 3 seconds just above the First Drop and visitors look almost 40 meters down. According to the story, the Witte Wieven now cut through the suspension cable of the hoisting cage. Accordingly, the roller coaster train at the First Drop shoots at an angle of 87 degrees 37.5 meters deep into a short tunnel filled with artificial fog: the gold mine with the Witte Wieven. Behind the tunnel follows an Immelmann, then an action photo is taken. After a zero g roll, a 360° spiral and a small bunny hop, the train hits the final brake and finally returns to the mine building.
- "Hooghmoed" is the Dutch word for arrogance.
- The plot of Baron 1898 shows some similarities with the stories of the Efteling attractions Villa Volta and De Vliegende Hollander. All three rides revolve around a lonely, haughty man who is put under a curse that forms the basis of each attraction.