2016 has certainly been one of my best years for visiting new amazing parks, being lucky enough to visit Europa Park, Liseberg, Paultons Park and Drayton Manor (I suppose).
This September though, things would become even more fantastic as I was to experience my first time. The first time I would be visiting Phantasialand. This is a park I've been wanting to visit now for a longtime, hearing how flawless the theming and attention to detail was here and the quality of the rides; at least most of them anyway.
Berlin street is certainly a magical entrance into the park (at least once you escape the main road directly outside). Especially once you walk past the grand carousel and intricate street with themed food outlets whilst listening to upbeat dramatic orchestral music. It's almost like being in Disney.
2016 brings to the park a major new investment, Klugheim. A brand new themed area featuring two new roller coasters and two new food outlets.
The headliner attraction of the new area is Taron. A multilaunch coaster from Intamin.
Taron is certainly an amazing looking attraction and rides as good as she looks. From the momentum of the first launch to the twists and turns amongst moments of ejector airtime through the articulated rock work straight into that second launch.
Taron may not quite be a Helix beater, but she is definitely a worthwhile addition to the park amongst it's tangled track, superb soundtrack right down to the brand new restraints which are significantly better to the Rita/Stealth ones.
My only major criticism of the ride probably has to be the massive cattlepen, which resides at the back of the area and remains remarkably hidden.
Raik is also a great junior boomerang and probably my favourite so far, putting Veloceraptor into a close second.
The main eatery Rutmoore's Tavern is a great place to go for lunch too and serves some decent hearty meals. I had a pork knuckle meal served with salad and potatoes which was of very good quality. Certainly of the best park eateries I've visited and maybe only second to Polle's and Food Loop.
Klugheim aside, there are plenty of other top quality attractions at Phantasialand. Including Chiapas, an amazing modern log flume with a steep drop, dark ride sections and superb theming.
An amazing floor less topspin known as Talocan, which is almost like watching a show off-ride.
Black Mamba, a superbly themed B&M invert which beats Inferno but Nemesis (on layout st least). Can't believe I didn't take any (poor) pictures of it.
Colorado Adventure, a Vekoma mine train that features three lifts that never get boring. The forces from that twists and turns especially entering those tunnels is exhilarating to say the least.
Safe to say my photography is not always acceptable.
Winjas was a surprisingly good duel Maurer spinning coaster which features two tracks called Force and Fear. Fear was the favourite due to feeling longer as a whole.
Maus Au Chocolate, an interactive dark ride where you shoot guns throughout different scenes trying to stop mice from infesting a chocolate factory. The smells were nice too and guns far better than those blocky things on Tomb Blaster.
And no trip to Phantasialand would be complete without a ride on the classic River Quest. Honestly, these Rapids are crazy in the best way possible and make Rumba Rapids look like a slow carousel in comparison.
Mystery Castle has to be one of the most mysterious rides in the park. This castle structure hides a number of massive drop towers which shoot up and down completely enclosed in the tower. David and I got the longer cycle (we believe) whilst Lou watched as she doesn't like drop towers.
Better than Chessington.
One of the park's older rides is Geister Riksha, a Chinese themed ghost train attraction. It is pretty dated in parts, but definitely upheld much charm throughout the ride.
Amongst the great theming and rides alongside it, the park's shows should not be ignored. We decided to watch the Ice Show which featured a college style theme. The costumes and mixture of music made for a great watch.
Especially when one of the dancers seems to resemble TPM's very own Liam-T.
Whilst this place has so many good rides, it does have quite a share of not so good rides however, like this (supposed) splash battle, Wakobato.
This ride is so close to houses, you may as well be in their back garden.
Honestly, what's the point in this ride? You don't get wet, there's no scoring system, the theming is repetive. There is literally no point in this ride existing.
The Hollywood tour certainly hasn't aged well as is very dated in places. The Wizard of OZ and Kong sections really look worn and creepy in some ways too.
Feng Ju Palace (theming aside) may be the worst madhouse I've been on so far. What's the point of that pre-show? It was honestly just like watching a boring stretched out version of Street Fighter.
And Nighthawk, was just strange in one of the dullest ways possible. Three lift hills going around in complete darkness. Only real positives were the station looked nice and the lift hill lights were acceptable.
Phantasialand is a truly magical and immersive park, adding plenty of intricate between the different areas, whether that be the African or Mystery areas. Klugheim is well and truly an amazing area and certainly one of the best themed areas in Europa (let alone 2016). Taron is an amazing attraction and certainly the new signature ride the park deserves.
Of course like every park, there are down sides. For example some of the park's older rides are looking particularly worn and dated compared to it's recent stuff. Take Hollywood and Nighthawk for example, it almost feels a different park when you compare them to something like Chiapas or Maus Au Chocolate. However I've heard they are on the chopping block anyway. A nice modern dark ride or two and a modern dark ride coaster would fit this park perfectly.
The final question-does it beat Europa Park?
Phantasialand really did blow me away and is one of the most parks I have ever visited. Unfortunately though, it doesn't quite beat Europa Park (though it is close).
Europa for me is such a vast sized park that there's literally tonnes of things to do yet feels very relaxed regardless of busyness. The complimenting themed areas and its updates to rides new and old may also help it greatly here. Europa are also pretty relaxed when it comes to safety, to the degree they don't check every ride and allow filming (if equipment is secure).
At Phantasia, they are very strict on this, to the level where even Go Pros are banned on all rides including the likes of Maus Au Chocolate. As a result I was told off on the Hollywood ride, let alone a coaster. Rant aside, it's a minor set back, but at the end of the day I go to parks to get immersed and enjoy rides. Not make POVS or YouTube hits (even if it seems like it).
To wrap this up, Phantasialand is a park everyone needs to visit. It has some greats rides and theming and is pretty easy to get too as well from Cologne Bonn Airport. Two days should be enough for most, but it could be stretched to three quite easily.
Favourite ride of the trip. Taron of course.