Guten tag from Germany.
Phantasialand has long been one of the "must-do-someday" parks for me. Reports, pictures, vids, and my own research led me to lust after the place, and I'm happy to say I finally got there. Maybe. I've decided to settle on a love/hate relationship.
I left Kaatsheuvel a little late on Thursday for the two hour drive to Brühl. Even after almost a week I can't seem to adjust to the time. I can't sleep at night and can't get up in the morning.
I arrived at the park around 11:00, about an hour later than I'd hoped. Parking was quick and easy, but cars were directed through a tunnel between two buildings to a pleasant lot in the rear of the park. "Mystery" lot was its name and it led to the park's Mystery gate, which is named after the nearest themed area. I was a little mad that I couldn't have a front gate experience for my first time, but it turned out not to matter. Much.
My 60+ senior admission was only €29.00. Was parking free? No, but once again you pay on the way out, but only 5 euros. I've decided it's the custom here. The gate was between two outstanding attractions, River Quest raft ride and Haunted Castle which is an excellent indoor drop tower ride. Did I stop for either one? Of course not, I headed straight for Taron. Well, sort of.
The park has without a doubt the most confusing layout I've ever experienced.
And I actually thought I'd studied up on it well enough, but no. I was even holding a park map, which was in German as they had no English ones. And the map was no help anyway. Entrances to rides were hidden. In certain areas I could see coaster track on all sides- left, right, above, and below, but the eingang was nowhere to be found. Mexico and Klugheim, the area with Taron (I'll get to that in a minute, guys) are constructed in huge pits, contained by four walls. They seemed dug in like quarries, but for all I know they were at ground level and the surrounding pathways were built up. Stairs, hills, and bridges abound. Queue areas take guests up flights of stairs, over, down more stairs, under, and back up again. At the end of the day my phone told me I had walked 5 miles and climbed 27 floors worth of stairs. 27. Correct. Maybe not much to many of you, but my old ass was exhausted. Those of you who know me know the Mac don't climb. Ever. But at Phantasialand there's no choice.
Ok, on to the rides. Taron, sadly, was a skip. The line was over an hour, and I got in it but it barely moved. I wasn't the only one who bailed, either, guests were frustrated. And it was hot. Come to find out in this part of Europe AC is scarce, I guess most of the year it's not necessary and an open window will do. There were no blowers, no fans and in that pit of a Klugheim it was stifling. So I tried the single rider line but after a 5 minute walk to it I discovered the line was long, probably 20 guests and in the 15 minutes I spent waiting they took no one. So I left with the idea later in the day might be better.
Next door (kind of) is the other new achterbahn, the family shuttle, Raik. Once I finally found the entrance I was slightly disheartened by another long line, but thankfully it moved quickly. And when I got close I held up 1 finger (Ein! Ein!) and an observant ride op took notice. The ride is built over and under other attractions and if it wasn't of different manufacture you wouldn't be able to tell it from Taron. They kind of twist together in one big happy knot. The ride was lots of fun but short, of course, and not a big draw. I had to marvel at how they were able to squeeze all of this into one small area.
Colorado Adventure, a Vekoma mine train was probably my favorite ride in the park. It was tight, twisty, fast, indoors, outdoors, and had three lifts. It has straight bench seats and a single lap bar (yay!) so as a single rider I slid back and forth the whole time. I loved this ride and rode it many times over my two day visit.
Black Mamba, the B&M invert was maybe the best ride of its kind I've ever tried. (Sorry, Banshee. Really,...I am) Again, it's track is tight- really tight. The turns, inversions, and helixes are so close to the surroundings, the tunnels, and the ground it was breathtaking. The raised pathways, bridges, and stairs of Africa surround the ride and everywhere you walk a Black Mamba will fly close by. Awesome.
And here I'll pause to make a point. I've determined these European ride designers and engineers are chumping us guys in the US. And by that I mean they're keeping all the good stuff for themselves. Seriously. The steel coasters and water rides are just awesome and have a flavor and a feeling a lot of ours don't have. I'll let you know, finally, after I'm done with Europa.
Say, did I mention water rides? Chiapas-DIE Wasserbahn log flume is the TOTAL S**T!! This Intamin creation is hands down the best flume ever. Once again, it's crammed into Mexico there somehow and has speed, length, 3 lifts, backwards, forwards, a huge final drop, and an indoor Day of the Dead disco scene. Who could ask for more? Sorry, Cedar Point and Holiday World, for your grand Intamin fails, but the herren are clearly keeping it local. One negative thing I might mention is the load process. The boats don't stop, and that's fine, but there's no conveyor belt. I found that a challenge and might have done the splits a couple of times. Maybe. (And FYI, laughter in German sounds the same as in English.) Oh well, the awesome ride made my embarrassment worth it.
River Quest is a Hafema rapids raft ride that starts with a vertical elevator lift and sends the boats swirling through many layers in a mysterious castle. It has sudden, steep drops and is soaking good fun.
Winja's Fear and Winja's Force are twin, dueling, indoor spinning coasters from Maurer and they were just awesome. I was totally surprised by the elevator lifts where the track tips at the top. Each side of the custom layout features great drops, a wild mouse switchback section, big spirals and lots and lots of spinning. There's another tip-track element toward the end of each, and the final thing before the brake run is a bouncing track section. Really, it bounces up and down. It's dark there and on my two rides I tried to make the contraption out but I couldn't see it. If it hadn't been for the thousand stairs to climb I'd have ridden these guys a lot more, as they were the best spinning coaster I've ever been on.
One more coaster to cover is Temple of the Nighthawk, the indoor ride formerly known as Space Adventure, or something. It was great, a totally dark coaster with three lifts. I was surprised by how much I liked this ride.
Oh, and there's Taron. As 6 o'clock closing time drew near I went back hoping to snag a ride but the queue that was still at an hour was closed. Ugh. So I crippled my way back to the Mystery lot and on the way planned my attack for day two.
The key to getting a ride on Taron, turns out, is to get there early. I arrived at the park at 9:30 and went straight to the ride. Klugheim didn't open until 10, so I waited on a bridge somewhere with many other people who had the same idea. And you might ask, isn't an hour wait the same no matter where you spend it? I suppose, but the bridge was less stifling and there was spectacular views of the ride testing from up there.
I opted for the regular standby line and it took maybe 15 minutes more before I finally sat down in my seat. A person from the single rider line joined me and was grateful I showed up.
The ride is lots of fun, but not quite the ultimate thrill I was expecting. The first launch is fine, rather quick though, which made the first half a little slower than expected. There were a couple of great drops with good, unexpected air. The second launch, however, is the big one and it really kicks everything into high gear. High twists and turns, near misses, and waterfalls complete the package. The trains and restraints are free and super comfortable.
All in all, the engineering marvel that is Taron made the wait worthwhile. How they managed to fit all that ride into that relatively small space is astounding. And the views and the fly-bys of the ride(s) from throughout Klugheim land were terrific. You could sit there all day.
Other rides of note:
Talocan. A super-themed Top Spin in Mexico. I normally pass on these, but this one was so awesome I had to ride. I wasn't too sorry about it, but I'll admit I rode the bench for a while afterward. The program was relentless, with lots of flips and hang time. There's a great spectator area from ground level and also from a high bridge.
Das verrückte Hotel Tartuffe is an attraction we don't see in the US anymore- a real live German funhouse. Brilliantly themed to a topsy turvy hotel there were hallways with trick floors, wobbly stairs, barrels, and a steep slide for a finale. It was so cute and clever- I absolutely loved it. My aching feet not so much, but I went through on both days.
Maus-au-Chocolate was a ride I almost passed on, but I was glad I didn't. It turned out to be a ride just like Toy Story Midway Mania, but is a trip through a bakery running with mice. The 3D shooting gallery stops were many, and the targets were cakes, bakery items, and lots and lots of mice. The gun is a pastry bag and you shoot blobs of frosting at the targets. Once again, brilliantly themed and so well done. And it smelled so good, like Hershey Pa. when the wind is blowing in the right direction. Yummy fun.
Mystery Castle is an indoor drop tower ride in a haunted castle. Scary and very well done. It's a don't-miss for sure.
Themeing and landscaping at Phantasialand is wonderful, but I'm forever ruined by Efteling. This place was good, no doubt, but there were several back stage slips. No complaints though,... Oh wait.
There were two dark rides at the park, Geister Rikschau and Hollywood Tour, that were horribly, embarrassingly bad. The animatronics looked like old JC Penney mannequins with bad wigs and costumes. After all that was wonderful at Phantasialand, I was shocked at those two. But they were the only real clunkers. Is recommend those rides only if you're completely out of other things to do.
I'm only half way through my trip. Today I drive four hours to Munich. At least it's Saturday. We'll visit again after I see Oktoberfest. That is if I'm not too drunk to type. Which I will be.
Love you all!
Wow! You're not kidding about Black Mamba. Just watched a POV and it looks amazing. All those tunnels and trenches really add to the ride. If Alex posting all those pics of Taron wasn't enough, (it was) this park is definitely on my list iffen we ever make it to Europe.
OMG this TR took me back to my visit to Phanty, and now I must return. You are right about Black Mamba, pretty much kicks the panties off any invert I have ridden here in the states. One quirky thing I liked as the animatronic of the guy doing the evil laugh in Mystery Castle. Me and my friends re-enact it to this day :). Talocan was another...who in the world came up with this?? Being rotisserie'd and sprayed at the same time and loving every minute of it. Thanks for sharing!!!
I agree ever since Alex posted those pictures that park is on my list. Sounds great. Great trip report. Thanks!
Really cool report...can't help but think the Europeans really do keep all the good stuff for themselves...LOL!
The traditional dark rides and water rides are definitely must-do attractions.
You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)
If you think the two existing dark rides were embarrassing, you should have seen what they removed before! My first visit in 2008 had a really bad suspended dark ride in the middle of the park themed after 1001 nights and another really bad omnimover dark ride in the "western area". The 1001 nights dark ride was replaced by the covered family area and Maus au Chocolat while the Omnimover became Chiapas. They also used to have a clone of Back to the Future in a golden dome on the way to Wuze Town, but they removed it this year. Rumors pointed toward a Soarin' like attraction as its replacement, but Europa Park is building it instead.
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