Europe 09/21 – Phantasialand
Day 17 – Phantasialand
I can never seem to escape this park, even though I’m far from the biggest fan. Last year was brutally bad timing as we missed the long awaited opening of F.L.Y. by a mere couple of weeks. Obviously that had to be rectified and so here we go again, ready to ride yet another Vekoma multi-launch that I was once hugely excited for, though feelings had since faded into obscurity.
Headed straight to Rookburgh to see what all the fuss had been about over the years. It’s quite the spectacle, I’ll give it that, and I like the way the area feels so far removed from the rest of the park as if it’s a little pocket world of its own. Walls were worth it.
Walking through the queue goes on for an age, but provides plenty of opportunity to have a good watch of everything going on around the place.
We reached the instructional batching point amongst the first guests of the day, but then proceeded to get stuck here, watching the video over and over again for what felt like a long time. The ride was already playing up and having some technical delays. I assume this robot bloke is/was meant to do something, though he appeared to also be broken.
The video explains the immensely complicated boarding procedure which is, I suppose intentionally, rather like boarding a flight. You receive a magic wristband from a member of staff and then proceed to a bank of lockers, selecting any one you want. Once all your goods are stowed, absolutely all of them, the band will lock it for you by touch and then of course become registered exclusively to that number until the end of the ride.
It’s now time to pass through the metal detectors and staff with scanners to check you haven’t been naughty and tried to sneak a cheeky picture of the station to sell to Golden Horse. The station queue splits off into two, with what was originally intended to be colour coded entrances based on the wristband you received, I believe for single riders and such. These are covid times however, so everyone gets blue anyway and they just filter from both alternately.
It’s a nice station, full of bubbling pipes and mood lighting. I particularly like the way the trains come in at pace, there’s an efficient, almost public transport feel to it which is again what I guess they were going for.
Having not followed anything about #1 F.L.Y. too closely, the trains themselves were rather impressive to behold. I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing as they came in sideways, seats mounted upright at 90° in sets of two. They’re massively long, nice and easy to get in to, the little one way leg flaps are rather genius and it’s all actually rather comfortable I found.
The trains despatch to much waving from the staff and continue in their weird sideways motion through an indoor section that contains a number of themed adverts for wacky inventions and then a large scene of a bustling airship dock(?) on screens. As you round the corner from there and head outside, the seats elegantly swivel round to the right as the track twists from behind you, to overhead, and the launch track awaits.
The pause at this point is a little awkward, I feel like the ride could have benefited from a rolling first launch to keep the excitement going after the swelling of the music and the accompanying scene. Nevertheless you’re off, zooming around the area through a million different twists and turns. It’s somewhat of a sensory overload even after multiple goes, helped along by a few bonus water and smoke effects. Inherently though, the riding position doesn’t lend itself terribly well into taking all of that in, it’s hard to focus on any of the stunning visuals when you’re looking towards the floor as it blurs past. Out of interest I also tried looking forward instead, for the duration of a front row lap, and it ended up being rather uncomfortable on the neck.
But is the actual ride any good? Kinda. There are some highlights in the latter half, as soon as that second launch hits and shoots you up here, there’s a surprising tug of acceleration followed by a bit of near-exclusive ‘airtime on a flying coaster’, though these are both only really felt towards the front. The following section is punctuated by some more highly unusual but satisfying lurching floaty moments, but those were the only real takeaway for me. The rest of the ride is rather repetitive and bland, much like the uninspired swooping turns and endless inline twists of lesser rival B&Ms, only highly exaggerated and then nicely decorated. Again I’m sure that hit the directive for this attraction, it’s just not something that keeps me coming back for more.
F.L.Y. is a fantastically fun themed experience with some fascinating new technology that’s simply joyous to behold, it simply doesn’t do the things I personally like flying coasters to do, namely crush your soul with ridiculous inversions.
Now that we had the measure of that, we found ourselves token lapping the rest of the park yet again.
Mice were shot with chocolate on Maus au Chocolat.
Winjas were feared.
Finally got the better side of these two again, after many years of trying. Interestingly the queue for the rides has temporarily been moved to outside of the building, instead entering through a theatre door and skipping the usually rather grim indoor maze section.
Crazy Bats weren’t seen.
The indoor coaster still isn’t running with virtual headsets, thankfully.
Feet were ripped off on Black Mamba.
Colorado Adventure was ruined again,
by unnecessary assigned seating on a half-empty train. Back row for life.
Oh and Taron.
Taron was kicking ass, moreso than usual. I’m not sure what went on but it was running almost too well. The queue wasn’t unbearable and we got more laps than ever before. There were snaps I hadn’t felt for a long time, those one-and-a-half airtime moments were delivering and there were random bursts of positives I don’t remember existing. I was making a point to readjust my mask during the trims at the end, for comedic effect, but even they were providing some unprecedented floatiness and then the final turn would instantly and aggressively whip it down my face again. Every time.
The creature is clearly asserting some dominance over the new kid in town. And rightfully so.
We had a great day once again, it’s always easy to fill the time with the undeniably strong and varied attraction lineup of Phantasialand. No water rides this time sadly as Chiapas likes to ruin shoes and River Quest was clearly having capacity issues – barely any boats running and a 90 minute queue all day, with F.L.Y. at 45 and nothing else over 20.
Every time I visit this park now it grows on me and the negative experiences fade further into the past. But they are what gives the place character, so I think I’d better slow down.