Park Review: Phantasialand (Brühl, Germany)

Located one hour away by tram and bus from the city of Cologne in Germany is what I can call the best theme park in Europe, Phantasialand. During my visit, it was rather a slow day given the grim weather forecast (thunderstorm all day). Turned out the thunderstorm was blown away by the wind to other direction, so I had the whole park to myself (meaning all queue lines were less than one hour long).

Talocan and its amazing special effects in full display.
Source: Daily News Dig

Why would I call Phantasialand the best park in Europe? Despite being a relatively small theme park, Phantasialand manages to fulfil expectation by having strong lineup of roller coasters and rides. Each ride and roller coaster in the park can be described as one-of-a-kind, unique to Phantasialand and can't be copied anywhere else, carrying its own surprises, ranging from a flume ride that goes backwards to a roller coaster that tilts fully sideways.

Taron's train swooshing past by.

TARON

If you aren't aware, I published a post exclusive for the park's newest roller coaster, Taron. With a top speed of 72.7 mph, Taron is the world's fastest multi-launch roller coaster. In addition, it also breaks the world record for the most complex layout, as shown by its record-breaking, jaw-dropping number of track crossovers: 116 times. This means the roller coaster's track crosses itself - be it up or down, left or right - for a total of 116 times throughout its 4,330.8-foot course.

Read my review here.

RAIK

Raik is a Vekoma Shuttle that the park markets as the "family coaster" of Klugheim, which is true if you ask me... if you compare it to Taron side-by-side, that is.

With a height of 82 feet, length of 689 feet, and a top speed of close to 40 mph, Raik is the world's tallest, fastest, and longest "family boomerang" coaster, meaning a family-style roller coaster that goes both forward and backward in motion.

Raik going through its first drop after being pulled up backwards. Notice the barrel at the front of the train carrying a smoke machine.

While the thrill factor is no match to that of Taron, what I love about Raik is that it does not fail to impress with Phantasialand's impeccable detail. For example, the train design is actually one of the best in the world. At the front of the train, there's a barrel that blows out smoke whenever the train is running. It's that awesome. Really.

The journey started with the train being pulled up the top of the hill... backwards. Once the train reaches the top of the show building, the brakes let loose and the train went down, passing through the station, up a small pop-airtime hill and went down through a ditch underneath Taron. Turn left, turn right, up to the second hill, and then... backwards!

To be honest, I feel that Raik is NOT really a family coaster, as the youngsters may find it too intense. Nevertheless, with its elaborate theming and nice thrill factor for even the thrill-seekers, Raik is a solid addition to the theme park as a whole.

BLACK MAMBA

Many coaster fans around the world praised Phantasialand for its elaborate theming, and Black Mamba is no exception. This Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M) inverted coaster is in fact one of the world's best of its kind.

Riders snaked around Black Mamba's track as they go through the queue line.

Those who have ridden Black Mamba often compare it to what many regard as the world's best inverted roller coaster, Nemesis at Alton Towers. True to expectation, both Black Mamba and Nemesis feature one-of-a-kind layout. Both coasters utilise surrounding terrain to their advantages by creating compact and complex layout that give the head- and foot-chopper sensation throughout. When it comes to inverted coaster, foot-choppers are everything!

What I love about Black Mamba other than its foot-choppers is its elaborate theming and complex layout. While this looks wonderful from down there, it's not until you ride it when you can feel how much the park planned the experience to be the way it is. You can literally feel how compact the layout is through the strong G-forces. It's insane.

Notice the tight layout of Black Mamba. A walkway bridge passed through the loop.
Source: Pinterest

Another one is that Black Mamba's station is hidden away from the public sight. This is why Black Mamba started its main lift hill from underground: because the station is positioned beneath the main terrain. What I love about this is it enables the park to create dark-ride feeling to it instead of just being roller coaster. As the train exits and enters the station, theme music and special effects accompany the movement of the train. In addition to that, the surrounding area is highly themed to accommodate Black Mamba and maximize the effectiveness of its compact layout. Truly well-executed! Kudos to Phantasialand for thinking this out.

Black Mamba is without doubt one of the world's best B&M inverted coaster thanks to its well-planned, well-executed layout and ride experience, as well as the elaborately-themed stations and surrounding area.

CHIAPAS: DIE WASSERBAHN IN MEXICO

If you know me well, you might probably know that roller coasters are typically my favorite rides in theme parks. With the exception of Disney and Universal theme parks, it is very rare for me to have favorite rides that are NOT roller coasters.

Guess what? Phantasialand decided to change that on my visit.

Chiapas is an Intamin log flume that is surprisingly one of the park's best rides.

From outside, Chiapas might look like just another log flume that happens to be elaborately, highly themed. It does boast an impressive world record, though: the world's steepest log flume drop, measured at 53 degrees. Oh, it also has an airtime hill too, so that's a pretty cool thing :-)

Once you get on the ride though, oh my... might as well call it one of the world's best log flume rides.

One, it goes BOTH forward and backward. Hell, it even has a backward drop.
Two, it has a kick-ass soundtrack that will make you sing and dance hours after you get off the ride.
Three, it's just that awesome. What else can I say?

They actually have someone with a water vacuum cleaning the boats after each cycle. Amazing!

MYSTERY CASTLE

From outside, Mystery Castle doesn't look like much. It just looks like a haunted castle with a really tall tower. Well, indeed, it's actually partially a walk-on haunted castle. The queue is themed to an abandoned mystery castle that was transformed into a laboratory for this lunatic professor.

Mystery Castle from outside looks like... (insert mature joke here).

The main ride takes place in the center of the castle, including the high tower. Mystery Castle is not only the park's most unique ride, but also one of the world's! This is the only fully-enclosed/indoor drop tower ride of its kind in the world (well, to be fair, there's also Tower of Terror, but that doesn't really count because it's an entirely different system.

You go up and down the 213-foot tall tower in darkness, faster than gravity and with up to 4 G's. This is one-of-a-kind ride that you should not miss when you visit the park (not to mention, plenty of fun!).

Want to get an idea what Mystery Castle looks like with the lights on?
Source: YouTube
Colorado Adventure is another ride in Phantasialand that people might think, "Oh, just another typical mine train roller coaster..." This is completely fair because Vekoma, the manufacturer of this roller coaster, is known for its pre-modeled mine train roller coasters like this, this, or this. Imagine having the same exact coaster around the world but only with different theming... sounds pretty tiresome, yes?

Colorado Adventure's track is highly photogenic and curvy.

Take a second look.

Indeed, it's a Vekoma mine train roller coaster, but it's just crazy how they pack so much of it in an incredibly tight space. Add to the fact that Colorado Adventure is 4,200-foot long (that's more than 1.25 km long!), you can say that Colorado Adventure is one hell of a wild ride for a mine coaster.

This is probably the best coaster of its kind in the world, but I might be wrong. Many would say that Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland Paris would take the title. But, hey, pretty close, no?

It's amazing how Phantasialand was able to fit so much track within such a tight space.

RIVER QUEST

River Quest is an Intamin rapids ride that can pretty much be summed up as the world's wettest ride. Period.

You can see how compact the layout for River Quest is: the ride itself is just feet away from the queue line.

Unlike other rapid rides - which often have huge space to roam around - River Quest is located within a small space. This is why Phantasialand decided to build this ride vertically instead of horizontally, hence the elevator at the beginning (yes, you read that right, elevator) that is probably 10 stories high.

From there, River Quest is all about drop, after drop, after drop. Hell, they even have a circle drop, which I've never encountered in any rapids ride around the world (at least thus far...).

River Quest doesn't have any mercy for its riders; the ride's first drop following the elevator leaves the riders SOAKED to the skin.
Source: Bavarian Times

Without doubt, River Quest is one-of-a-kind rapids ride that you won't find anywhere else. Its unique elevator system and its soaking-to-skin drops are enough to make it one of the world's best - and the world's wettest - rapids ride.

WINJAS

Winjas is actually two different roller coasters, not one.

Wuze Town, the indoor portion of the park where Winjas is located. Here you can see the two Winjas roller coasters encircling the epicenter of the so-called town.

Winjas are a pair of spinning roller coasters (the train spins around) created by Maurer AG. Unlike other spinning coasters of the same manufacturer, Winjas are custom-made, as their models exist only in Phantasialand.

In addition, Winjas are unique not only for their layouts, but also the elements throughout the ride. Both utilize elevators instead of lift hills. The Fear side has a portion of the track mid-ride that tilts forward and backward, while the Force side tilts sideways. At the end of the ride, both roller coasters have mini vertical-drop track (only five feet, but still...) that surprises the riders.

This is without doubt the world's best spinning coaster. Its unique elements, its elaborately themed layout, and spinning sensation make Winjas one of the most popular rides in the park.

All of the elements that make Winjas the world's most unique spinning coaster.
Source: Theme Park Thoughts

TALOCAN

You have probably seen a ride exactly like Talocan. This is a Huss Top Spin ride that spins the riders upside down for up to 10 times as the gondola gently goes up and down vertically. Now... imagine the park decided to not stop there, decided to theme the crap out of the ride, install some water and fire features around the ride, and add intense sound effects and soundtrack. What do you get?

Talocan, the must-see attraction of the park that also double-acts as a spectacular show.
Source: Wikimedia

I'll admit that Talocan isn't really a must-ride. Yet, it's a must-see. Seeing 40 people being tumbled upside down again and again as the water and fire splashes and explodes around them is simply spectacular, something that will make you go, "Oooohh!!" and "Aaaahh!!"

It's not common for a theme park ride to act more as a must-see rather than a must-ride, but that's the exact thing that Talocan does. Phantasialand clearly did a great job when planning this ride, as this ride acts not only as an attraction, but also as a live show which lets the riders to play along by riding it. Kudos to your creative approach, Phantasialand!

Phantasialand: Rides, Vibe, and Everything Else

So far, I've said that Phantasialand is Europe's best theme park because of its one-of-a-kind rides and unique rides:
  • Taron - world's fastest multi-launch coaster and most crossovers on any coasters worldwide
  • Raik - world's tallest, fastest, and longest family boomerang roller coaster
  • Black Mamba - one of the world's most elaborately-themed and tightest B&M inverted coaster, similar to Nemesis at Alton Towers
  • Chiapas - log flume ride with world's steepest drop and forward-backward motion
  • Mystery Castle - world's only fully enclosed drop tower ride
  • Colorado Adventure - one of the world's tightest and best Vekoma mine train coaster
  • River Quest - world's tightest rapids ride, arguably the wettest
  • Winjas - world's most unique pair of spinning coasters
  • Talocan - world's most elaborately-themed and best Huss top spin
So what else could be at Phantasialand?

Convenience is key in experiencing Phantasialand; screens like this show the waiting times of all rides around the park.

Firstly, there's convenience. This is particularly true because Phantasialand strategically puts screens like above around the park, stating how long the wait times are for all rides in the park. This makes planning much easier. No more asking, "How long will the wait be?" or wondering which rides to do next and such.

A small workshop on some sort of African dance to djembe music, which attracted more than a dozen of participants.

Second point goes to the park's dedication to themed areas. While theming is usually done by designing appropriate buildings and sceneries, Phantasialand took this to another level by offering it at personal interaction level. One of the impressive examples of this can be seen in the photo above: a workshop of djembe music and dance in the African section of the park, presented by staffs of African origin.

For me, example like above is impressive because this is not a live show: this is legit an educational workshop where the presenters literally tell you what the dance means, the origin of the instruments, and last but not least allowing the guests to participate along in the workshop. While this might not be a true representation of the original culture, Phantasialand does a decent, if not great, job in creating immersive theming.

Just keep jumpin'.

Last but not least is the chill. I don't know what it is about Phantasialand that makes the whole park so chill. The vibe is clearly so different to other busy theme parks such as Universal Orlando, Europa Park, and Alton Towers. When you're there, you just feel like you want to enjoy your time and not to rush it.

Perhaps it's the staffs who genuinely smile at you and provide services with their fullest hearts. Perhaps it's the small size of the park, which makes it super easy to go around the park. Perhaps I just happened to visit on a quiet day. I don't know what it is, but I had a wonderful day at Phantasialand for sure.

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