Europe 09/21 – Freizeitpark Familienland + Fantasiana
After our painfully short sleep we woke up to discover that the location of the hotel was just as stunning as the hotel itself.
In fact, the Austrian scenery (this was my first time visiting) was beautiful the entire way from the hotel to the first park of the day.
Which was Freizeitpark Familienland, a small park that I’d discovered while planning another trip a few years ago and from that point I labelled it as the park with the Zierer ESC that’s surrounded by mountains. To be fair that’s an accurate description of the park but dig under the beautiful surface and you’ll discover that the park is almost unfairly so much more.
Ignoring a few key exceptions from France, I’d never felt truly welcomed by any of their admissions staff. So it was such a breath of fresh air to speak to the man at the entrance of Familienland. There was no hard faces, there were no harsh words, no demands for masks or covid passes, just a chilled out friendly bloke welcoming us on park and it felt great.
First up we headed to the park’s star attraction, the previously mentioned Zierer ESC surrounded by mountains, Big Bang.
They were experiencing some form of technical issue as we entered the queue, this led to one of the greatest introductions you could have to a coaster and a situation that couldn’t have been anymore Austrian.
There was a fault was a proximity sensor on the coaster’s brake run. From previously working at a park I was worried, these kinds of faults would normally take 3 – 4 hours to resolve. You’d have to wait for engineering, evacuate the coaster, station and queue lines, source the new sensor from the workshop, harness up, spend 30 – 45 minutes changing the part and then finally complete multiple test runs.
Or if you’re Austrian…
The ride op himself does the work, the guests in the station and queueline spectate in amazement, the new sensor is already under the station just in case, you scale the track harness free, you spend less than a minute changing sensors and then you test it once before reopening immediately. It really does make you wonder why the rest of the World can’t be trusted to do this..
Enough about how amazing the Austrians are, how does Big Bang ride?
It’s great fun, has real character and is officially the best Zierer ESC in the World, simple.
Next up was Wicky, which was sadly the last coaster and last attraction that we’d need to experience at the park.
You wouldn’t think so looking at the coaster’s rather epic station and entrance but Wicky is actually just a SBF Visa Twin Helix.
What did make it kind of special though was the friendly ride operator and the many other full grown adults having a blast while riding. There’s something in the air at this park I’m sure and I love it.
After a few more laps of Big Bang we sadly had to part ways with Freizeitpark Familienland. Thankfully I’m happy to say that it’s a park that I’ll never forget and I couldn’t think of a better introduction to Austria.
Apart from maybe…
Oh, this was something really special.
Heartline had raved about this park so much and in so much detail that this visit really felt like a homecoming to me, even though I’d never been before. I knew the rides, I knew, loved and owned the park soundtracks and this all combined to make this incredible park even more wonderful.
Knights Ride Tower
The first attraction you come to after entering the park is the amazing and visually stunning Knights Ride Tower.
Inside that awesome facade is an abc rides drop tower but describing this attraction as simply a drop tower would be selling it criminally short.
After entering the attraction you come face to face with a massive animatronic dragon in a room that’s full of sinister dread. Or at least it was to me, because I knew I was one door opening away from an abc drop tower.
Tower rides get under my skin at the best of times but abc towers in my opinion have the most intense drop out there, so naturally I was freaking out big time.
The door opened and the loading area kept the same level of theming and dread that the previous room had. The single lap bar that feels like it’s doing nothing came down and the ascent began.
You pass four heavily themed scenes on your way to the top and then it’s time to come back down and I’m pleased to say that Knights Ride Tower lives up to the abc claim of having the most intense drops out there.
I lost count of how many times I rode this amazing attraction but 3 things were constant on every ride. The level of theming always surprised me, the drop always scared me and I always loved every second of it.
Fridolin’s verrückter Zauberexpress
After that amazing introduction to the park, we next headed to their brand new coaster, Fridolin’s verrückter Zauberexpress.
Before we move onto the coaster itself though, I can’t not mention how great the brand new area the coaster lives in is. It looks fantastic and seeing this level of detail and attention from a relatively small park is so impressive.
And that’s just the toilets!
Fridolin’s verrückter Zauberexpress is the first Family Launch Coaster from ART Engineering but better than that it’s actually multi launch. In fact the coaster is currently the only multi launch coaster in the World that children as small as 90cm can ride.
Despite being designed to be suitable for children of that size, Fridolin is far from boring, even to a jaded enthusiast like myself. The launches are fun, there are some nice forces here and there and the waterfall section is always worrying. Even if you can’t find any fun in the coaster itself though, I’d find it impossible for anyone to deny how well presented and adorable it is.
And then it was time for Wild Train…
Where do I even start…
I love Pax (the insane Russian coaster manufacturer) and Wild Train is easily the best Pax.
I love airtime and Wild Train delivers some of the most extreme and intense pops of it in the World.
Wild Train is absolutely insane! We rode this amazing piece of engineering so many times but I never got used to the brutality of the airtime. Me and Heartline would bounce between laughing so hard it hurt and then screaming in fear every time we rode Wild Train and I can’t really think of a better way to explain why I love it so much.
Sindbad’s Abenteuerreise was next on the list.
This ghost train style dark ride takes you on a journey through some of Sindbad’s most harrowing adventures. I spent the entire ride freaking out which I think made the experience more fun for everyone involved.
Then it was time for me to experience Mami Wata, Fantasiana’s fantastic Hafema flume ride.
There was something so magical about hearing the ride’s soundtrack in person for the first time, after I’d listened to it on a regular basis ever since Heartline’s first visit to the park.
Mami Wata isn’t a long ride, but I’m not complaining, I like how it gets straight to the point, unlike a lot of other flume rides. The theming is wonderful, both the drops are great fun (you will get wet!), the music is amazing and like other rides at Fantasiana it’s an instant classic.
For reasons of wanting to please the Dark Ride Database, wanting to dry off from Mami Wata and wanting to spend as long as we physically could at Fantasiana, we next checked out the 4D Cinema.
This ended up being a fantastic decision because the film they were showing was incredible. Think Efteling’s PandaDroom but much more slow paced and solemn, narrated by a super deep voiced German turtle and with an ending full of uncertainty. It was accidentally great in many ways and absolutely worth the time investment.
For all the same reasons again we next rode the old timer car ride. I couldn’t tell you if it’s small indoor section elevates it to dark ride status but I can tell you that I enjoyed it.
Sadly all good things must come to an end. So after a ride on the Ferris Wheel, another couple of laps on Fridolin, many more laps on Wild Train and 2 more visits to the Knights Ride Tower, it was with a heavy heart that I had to say farewell to Fantasiana. But not before getting myself a copy of the Mami Wata soundtrack CD and a kick ass lenticular Knights Ride Tower postcard!
If it wasn’t too obvious I absolutely loved my visit to Fantasiana and I can’t wait to return.
Today had been amazing, Freizeitpark Familienland had been great and a breath of fresh air, Fantasiana had been one of my favourite park visits ever and my favourite K-Pop group (fromis_9) had just come back. All was well, until it wasn’t…
Tonight’s hotel, where do I start…
Gone were the mountain views of last night’s hotel, replaced with a literal scrap yard. Gone was the feeling of being the only ones in the hotel, replaced with being crammed wall to wall with undesirable characters staring us down at every opportunity. Gone was air con, replaced with a fan that turbo charged the hot air into your face. Gone was common courtesy, replaced with staff who just didn’t care. Gone was the ability to get boiling water at a hotel, replaced with having to eat cold tortillas and drink warm ‘yoghurt.’
Do you want to know the best bit? This hotel had a better rating on Booking.com than the stunning one from the night before. I can only assume bribes were accepted, I can’t wrap my head around any other reasoning.
Thank you for reading, if we survive the night then please click here for day 13 of my trip report, where we visit Familypark before I spend my life savings at Wiener and Böhmischer Prater.