My wife and I were in Europe October 12-23. We started in Amsterdam, took a train to Bremen to visit friends and Freimarkt, took a train to Phantasialand via Cologne, then took a train to Brussels where we day tripped to Bruges and Ghent. If you want to see any photos from our trip you can see them on my Instagram (link in my signature).
Bremer Freimarkt (Breman Free Market)
We originally planned to do Oktoberfest with our friends who live in Germany but covid in 2021 and then a pretty serious health scare on their end earlier this year kept us from doing it. It turns out Breman’s Freimarkt is older, nearly the same size as Oktoberfest and is also in their home town of Bremen so we planned our trip around it.
Freimarkt is HUGE! This year it had three roller coasters, every spinning ride you can imagine, two beer tents, and alcohol everywhere else. What really blew me away is how when faced with making as much money as possible how efficiently the individual ride operators run their rides.
For instance we rode a music express and there’s no queue once you buy a ticket. You just walk on to the platform while it’s running and the second it slows down people get off and you get on. If there are empty seats they run it slowly until someone walks up at which time they slow the ride (not stop it) and let the new people get on. Repeat that until it’s full and then they turn it up to 11. It was the craziest music express I’ve ever been on! They ran three long ass cycles, slowing in between each to spiel and allow the “queue” to build up. There was less than 20 seconds between when we got off and it was running with new people again. Every ride was like this.
You can see the kids waiting "on" the ride while it's running in this photo, look to the right.
I rode said music express, a wild mouse also turned up to 11, a log flume with a backwards drop, a haunted house, and drank a lot of beer. We didn’t get a chance to check out the beer tents because they were a loud night club by that point in the evening. I was hoping to make it back the next night but we ended up riding bikes and hanging out with our friends at their place until pretty late. Our hotel was literally right next to the Freimarkt and train station but we just didn’t have the energy and had an early train the next morning.
We spent the afternoon in Cologne visiting the cathedral — leaving a train station and seeing something like that will never get old to me — and drinking kolsch.
We needed to catch the Phantasialand shuttle from a station a 30 minute tram ride away and left with plenty of time. Good thing because the tram ride took much longer due to issues with the track. We caught the free shuttle and arrived at Hotel Ling Bao.
We were expecting to be able to grab a bite to eat at the hotel but the bar snacks stopped at 6pm and reservations were required for the only on-site restaurant on were full. It seems covid after shocks are still being felt. Frustrated but determined to not let it bother us we ate some nuts and pastries we had on us and drank our liter bottles of kolsch that we bought in Cologne in the hotel’s courtyard. It was nice to unwind after a few days of intense travel.
The next morning we enjoyed the included breakfast buffet before the park opened at 9, rides at 10.
Each of the three themed hotels has their own entrance into the park’s themed section which matches the hotel. Hotel Ling Bao’s is from within its courtyard. From our room to the park it was less than a minute. It couldn’t have been easier.
Since the rides didn’t start running until 10 we walked around and got the lay of the land. It was raining and cool. The rides are all around you, narrow pathways lead you above and below and take you to new places you didn’t realize were there. The park blends each themed area really well.
We were worried about not having enough time in the park but that proved to not be a concern. The longest we waited for anything was probably F.L.Y. which including the walk back took less than 15 minutes.
I won’t go through the entire 8 hours in the park so here is a summary of what we rode.
Maus Au Chocolat
We noticed this was running before 10am so we checked it out first. Walked straight through the very long and lovely queue to the station. This is a Toy Story Mania-like themed to a pâtissier with a mouse infestation. You’re armed with a pastry bag that shoots cream and chocolate. It was fun but didn’t have as much variety as Toy Story Mania and used low resolution screens.
When my wife asked me if there was a park we could visit in Germany Phantasialand was my first thought because of Taron. We got in line right at 10am and waited about 10 minutes for our first ride somewhere near the back of the train.
Wow. I wasn’t expecting such a forceful ride. From descriptions I’ve read that it wasn’t as forceful as Maverick or Velocicoaster but I didn’t find that to be the case at all. It packs a punch and tosses you out of your seat at multiple places and both launches are aggressive. It lacks a signature moment but makes up for it in length.
We ended up with 5 more rides throughout the day including a re-ride where they let us stay on the train. It seems they would rather run the trains full, then send them with empty seats so a win win.
I don’t love flying coasters but I did like F.L.Y.. You can’t talk about the coaster without talking about the space it occupies. The entrance is subtle and obscured similarly to Diagon Alley. If you aren’t looking for it you could easily miss it. You walk through a tunnel and are greeted with an exquisitely themed steam punk land and F.L.Y. all around you.
After a long walk up and all around the area you go underground where each rider is given a bracelet for the free locker which you need to exit the ride. You sit down facing back at the people waiting for your row. The restraints are heavy and required an attendant to close it heavy. You exit the station sitting down and facing away and run through a brief pre-show of sorts. Before you exit the building you are rotated into the flying position and launched. The ride is long and entertaining with frequent near misses and surprises but it never trancended the flying coaster awkwardness for me. I am always telling myself that no one has fallen out and I won’t be the first and forcing my head up to look forward.
All that said of the flying coasters I’ve ridden this is far and away my favorite. I have no desire to ever re-ride a B&M flyer again but if I found myself at Phantasialand again this would be a must ride.
I wasn’t really expecting much from Black Mamba. It sure looked cool in the photos but I’ve never heard it mentioned in any conversations around “best B&M invert” or even in the same breath as Taron or F.L.Y. It’s blended in to the Africa area of the park and takes place mostly at or below ground level. This is a great ride and sits somewhere at the top of my favorite B&M inverts. It hits each element with the perfect amount of speed. The zero g roll is sublime and they keep things interesting all the way until the end by utilizing quick changes of direction and inversions below ground level. We rode this 3 times throughout the day including once in the front. It was best somewhere towards the front but I found it lackluster in the first row.
Chiapas – Die Wasserbahn
Great modern log flume themed to Mexico. Didn’t get too wet and didn’t feel compelled to re-ride even though they were letting people stay on.
This is the most unique raft ride I have ever ridden. It has a medieval theme and because of the park’s space constraints uses an elevator lift that takes you over 100ft (not verified) to the top where you are dropped into a toilet bowl of sorts. The boats are hinged so three separate pieces of the boat can move independently which allows it to navigate the steep drop offs. We had a fun group on our boat and ended up getting fairly wet but not soaked so we didn’t have to go back to our hotel room to change like we were planning on doing.
Winja’s Fear and Force
These are indoor, nearly mirrored spinning mice. I say nearly because each has a slightly different ending. One comes to a stop and the track tilts vertically into the next hill. The other tilts horizontally. Fun and disorienting but portions go through what looks like their work shed with some black curtains strung up. A language barrier ended with us re-riding the fear side.
I didn’t really know what to expect with this. I only knew that it was a drop ride. We walked through the themed and very dark queue and were let into the tower where there are 4 separate drop towers facing one another with a control room in the middle. The ride ops are dressed in lab coats. It turns out we are part of a lab experiment. They take you up then down then up again where the “experiment” Is done and you are then dropped. Interesting take on a drop ride and compared with California Adventure’s face shields a much better solution for noise.
Neat little out and back family coaster that is intertwined with Taron. Why don’t we have any of these in the states?
Nicely themed mine train that interacts with Chiapas – Die Wasserbahn but too long of a train for as many direction changes it had. It feels like the train is constantly pushing and pulling.
Das Verrückte Hotel Tartüff
Classic funhouse with some fun gags that would never be allowed in the states.
A rickety Disney omnimover wannabe Haunted Mansion. It even has a hitchhiking ghost scene.
We had a beer at the medieval bar near Taron’s exit. They serve in real glasses including a full liter option. If we had more time we would have had another. It was a nice place to hang out, listen to the different languages being spoken, and watch Taron.
We had a reservation at the asian buffet at our hotel. There were Chinese, Japanese, and Thai options including plenty for vegetarians. Given a choice we would have likely went somewhere else but without leaving the resort there was no other choice. It was fairly expensive but worth the money. We ended the evening having a beer in the hotel’s beautiful lobby. Being there felt a bit like being on a cruise. With no other options we were forced to just sit and enjoy each other’s company which was a nice change of pace.
We used the shuttle the next morning and the tram ride into Cologne was on time and very easy. After lunch and a couple more kolsches in Cologne we were on our way to Brussels to finish our trip.
If there are empty seats they run it slowly until someone walks up at which time they slow the ride (not stop it) and let the new people get on
Someone should show a video of this to the folks at IROC just to see their eyes start twitching.
To be fair I twitched a little bit myself. It was rainy and those aluminum platforms are slippery and that ride spins like a mother f-er.
I know the old Blue Streak is the example that everyone goes to with "that is how rides should be run" but even though it never happened, it seemed like an accident waiting to happen.
And the Music Express is even worse. How is it that 15 drunks don't get wiped out every year?
Update the original post with the Phantasialand TR. Thanks for reading.
Nice TR. I like hearing about parks I've never been to. Just looked up some pics of Phantasialand, and wow the themeing is impeccable.
Aw, no Talocan? I’m not usually one for Top Spin rides but in this case I really felt like I had to. And I wasn’t sorry, it was awesome.
I really liked Phantasialand for all its quirks. The layout was so confusing- I was glad I had scheduled 2 days. F.L.Y. wasn’t built yet, so I can’t speak to that, but I think my favorite coaster was Black Mamba with Colorado Adventure coming in second. Taron was fun but I didn’t feel like it lived up to the unending hype. The other rides were surprising and fun.
I’m so glad you went through Das Verrückte Hotel Tartüff. I loved that funhouse and I did it several times. I thought both water rides were fantastic. The raft ride is Hafema and has their trademark whirlpool and that near vertical drop was a real hang-on moment.
Cologne was awesome. The cathedral was somehow spared the ravages of WWII and the shopping street was so busy and lots of fun. I wanted to bring home every pair of shoes I saw.
I’m glad you went and had a great time.
Aw, no Talocan?
I looked at it but I wanted another ride on F.L.Y. and my stomach was a little upset. We watched it from the backside and at one point we smiled and waved at the people riding through the little viewing windows. It seemed like they were mere feet away from us.
the themeing is impeccable
It’s stunning. Lots of detail everywhere
I’m so glad you went through Das Verrückte Hotel Tartüff. I loved that funhouse and I did it several times.
I’m glad we stumbled upon it. The website and map didn’t really surface it very well. We just noticed a few people standing outside the queue and decided it was worth checking out. Super fun!
I’m glad we stumbled upon it.
Same. I knew it was there and was looking forward to it but it was quite obscured there on Berlin Street, and I had all but forgotten. In other words I didn’t expect to find it when it did.
I thought of something else to ask. What’s the loose article policy on F. L.Y. ? The reason I ask is because I’ve yet to see a pov video of the ride. I haven’t checked in a while but when I did there were none. Not pirated, stealthed, or official. It was almost as if they wanted to keep it a secret and were actually successful about it.
I’ll look again, I was just curious.
You must be logged in to post