Discuss theme parks, roller coasters, and mules!
Fri Nov 10, 2017 7:28 pm
Every single word about EGF is so true. Those original-style Intamin trains/restraints track so well and the lap bars are so comfortable. Riding it last year made me yearn for the SFNE Superman of old, since the original trains tracked better and the original lap bars didn't try to keep you from getting the full effect of the airtime. Long live Expedition GeForce.
Skyrush might have "stronger" airtime and things like i305 or Maverick might have more insane/scary laterals, but you could literally ride EGF all day. And that's what makes it the perfect steel coaster.
Sat Nov 11, 2017 12:49 am
It's hard to believe since they look so different, but the trains on SFNE's Superman are the same as they ran opening year. They've just been modified. My hope is that they someday get new trains since they got them for a 20 year old SLC.
Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:05 am
Few parks can match Europa in terms of theming. Our next park happened to be one that could in Phantasialand. But before we got to the park, we had the pleasure of staying in their superbly themed Hotel Ling Bao. The level of detail in the hallways, courtyards, and rooms blew me away. I felt like I was in China. Not just because of the theming, but because my phone for some reason said my current location was Taiwan where it was over 100 degrees.
While it wasn't 100 degrees, the weather was a downside. Simply put, the weather was cruddy. It was 60 degrees and non-stop rain all day. If we were in America, it’s likely the park would have been deserted or possibly even closed. Europeans don’t melt like the Wicked Witch of the West, so the park had all rides operational. Further, the park was decently crowded too. Enough so that the major coasters had half hour waits.
Our day began with ERT on Black Mamba. Prior to riding, it’s impossible to see the entirety of the ride’s layout. The coaster constantly weaves through rockwork and dives below ground level. The only other coaster with a layout quite like it is one that I rode the week before, Nemesis.
However, Nemesis was built in 1994. Black Mamba was built in 2006. Usually newer is better, but with B&Ms many enthusiasts know the older ones are considerably more forceful. I went in expecting Silver Bullet level forces and was pleasantly surprised.
My first ride was in the back and the drop felt like an old-school B&M. The subsequent loop had some good whip to it as well. Wait is this ride actually forceful? So far it seems the answer is yes! The next zero-G roll was nice and floaty. The next overbank was probably the tamest part of the ride, but it wrapped around a waterfall and some intricate rockwork, so I didn’t mind one bit.
After two snappy corkscrews, the return leg of Black Mamba is unlike any other invert I’ve been on. Usually the ride only has a helix or final turn after the last corkscrew. On Black Mamba, the final corkscrew dumps you off at the furthest point from the station. The result is a rapid fire succession of twists and turns. The final helix in particular pulled some strong Gs before you plunge into a dark cave holding the brake run.
I was able to get 12 rides during the ERT session. I made sure to try the front as well and Black Mamba was an anomaly. It was the first invert I have ever preferred in the back. The front had excellent visuals, but the forces were nowhere near what I experienced in the back. I was also able to dodge the rain in the back. I really liked Black Mamba. It’s one of the best inverts thanks to the weird layout, incredible theming, and forces (in the back). 9 out of 10
After ERT ended, we made sure to knock out Maus au Chocolat early. With the unrelenting rain, we wanted to ride the Toy Story Mania knockoff before it developed a line. Knockoff probably isn’t the right word. I think the ride system is identical to Toy Story Mania and the animation is high quality. This isn’t some Pigeon Forge ripoff. Operating the gun (or pastry shooter in this case) is one heck of an arm workout, but it’s addictive. The ride felt longer than Toy Story with 1-2 extra scenes.
My one complaint with the ride was how the targets respawned. Unless I’ve been oblivious on Toy Story, the spawning of high value targets seemed to either be more randomized or have more delay to them. On Maus, they kept reappearing in the same spot. I was faced with a moral dilemma to spam that spot or actually move around. Outside of that, it’s an incredible dark ride. I almost feel guilty for preferring this over a ride with practical sets. Almost. 9 out of 10
While we were assured by the park that Taron would operate uninhibited by the rain, we didn’t want to take any chances. It was an Intamin after all. Honestly, a mechanical breakdown was far more likely. For that reason, we made our way over to the incredibly themed Klugheim area. With the heavy rain, the dark Klugheim had a very eerie and mystical feel to it.
Taron was just finishing its morning testing and then we were sent off on the first two trains of the day. I was pleased to see the same comfortable lap bars on Taron as Red Force. I think Intamin has perfected their lap bar. Well I thought they already had with Millennium Force and El Toro, but then Skyrush came along.
Both launches were pretty powerful and had good kick to them. They were about on par with Maverick’s launch. When Taron was announced, all the coaster enthusiasts had an orgy. They expected a ride as intense as Maverick. Let me start by saying that it definitely is not. That being said, the highly detailed rockwork and theming more than makes up for it as the ride is simply pure fun.
Taron’s layout is impossible to follow, but it has a little of everything. For me, that’s the ride’s strength. There’s a mix of some airtime hills with rapid changes of direction (some of which provide air). There are some bits on the coaster that give you a breather from an intensity standpoint, but the whole area around the ride looks beautiful so it gives you a moment to appreciate that.
I really liked Taron. Most launch coasters are like a Billy Mays commercial. Intense but short. Taron has a full layout and is insanely reridable. Is it a top 10 coaster? No. Is it as good as Maverick? No. But would I take it over most B&M hypers? Probably. 9 out of 10
The one ride we were warned could be adversely impacted by the rain was the park’s mine train, Colorado Adventure. Figures the ride themed to the US would have issues with the rain. It took us a bit to find the entrance because of Phantasialand’s ridiculously detailed level of theming. They were still testing the ride, but 5 minutes later we boarded.
We’re glad we rode it early since the rain impacted the ride’s capacity. They were only able to load the front 2/3 of the train. I also believe the coaster can run 4-5 trains, but they appeared to only be running 2. I’ll take that over a closed ride. We waited an extra train to get the front row.
I think Colorado Adventure had the potential to be the best mine train coaster out there. There were a few hills that I felt could have given some airtime had the train been fully loaded and the ride warmed up. As it was running, the ride was a super long (3 lifts), smooth mine train with had all the theming one could want (waterfalls, rockwork, tunnels, etc). The bit after the second lift in total darkness was the highlight for me. 7 out of 10
Adjacent to Colorado Adventure was the Geister Riksha dark ride. Usually the only dark rides I’m not a fan of are those cruddy carnival ones with props straight from Party City. Geister Riksha may have huge sprawling scenes, but I wasn’t a big fan of the ride. I honestly couldn’t tell you what was going on and couldn’t get invested in it. 3 out of 10
One ride I could get invested in is Chiapas. I like a good log flume, so I really love an exceptional log flume. Like Phantasialand’s other major attractions, Chiapas of course is stunningly beautiful. One impact of the rain was that the water rides had virtually no wait. We were on Chiapas in less than 5 minutes, and all of that was spent navigating the queue line.
If Chiapas were a standard flume with its theming, I would have loved it anyway. But it has all sorts of quirky features. The lift hills are unnervingly fast for a flume and use a unique system with two chains on the side of the log. The ride also has a backwards section, which is cool in itself, but instead of the mainstream revolving platform, there’s this funky sideways switch track. Then there’s some indoor bits with character scenes and an infectious theme song sure to get stuck in your head.
The ride’s signature is the final plunge. It’s massive and I believe the park advertises it as the world’s steepest flume drop. Along with having impressive stats, the drop delivers the goods and even gives a pop of air. Surprisingly the little hump at the bottom of the drop doesn’t give any air. I don’t think Chiapas was a soaker, but it’s hard to say since I was already quite wet from the rain.
The only negative with Chiapas are its awkward lap bars. Those who have ridden Ripsaw Falls know just how awkward lap bars are on a flume. I can somewhat understand the awkwardness on Ripsaw Falls since the logs were retrofitted with them. But as a custom flume, I was disappointed. I felt like I had to do the limbo getting in and out of the logs, and I saw several people falling over.
Splash Mountain will forever be my favorite flume. The story on that ride combined with the fantastic drops makes it unbeatable. However, Chiapas isn’t far behind. It’s better than Ripsaw Falls. Further, it’s probably better than 85-90% of the coasters that I’ve been on, which is a pretty impressive statement. 10 out of 10
I was looking forward to trying the boomerang. That’s an unheard of statement in the enthusiast community, but Raik was different. It was a highly themed, junior boomerang. This actually had the longest posted wait of the day at 40 minutes, but we were able to get on in 5 with the single rider line.
The ride was markedly less intense than its big brothers, but trading the headbanging inversions for comfortable lap bars was an upgrade. The spikes weren’t very steep, but they had longer drops that expected. Flying through Klugheim, particularly in reverse, produced some cool visuals. 6 out of 10
Mystery Castle is considered one of the world’s quirkiest and best drop towers, so I was excited to try it (though I wasn’t as excited as the phallic looking castle). The ride takes a page out of Sky Scream’s playbook and has haunt-level theming in the queue line.
I don’t want to spoil the ride for those who haven’t ridden it. What I will say is this, the drops are fantastic and have that stomach-churning sensation a good drop tower provides. The ride is also unpredictable. I rode it twice and I received two different cycles. The ride’s theming is also well-integrated into the ride and induces a fitting feeling of chaos. 10 out of 10.
River Quest was another water ride I was eager to try. I don’t want to call it a river rapids ride. Yes you ride in circular rafts like a river rapids ride, but there weren’t actually any rapids. If you don’t want any spoilers, please skip the next 3 paragraphs. Just know that River Quest is a soaking rapids ride with great drops. 10 out of 10
The ride begins with a well-themed vertical lift. I’m a sucker for vertical lifts, so as I was enjoying myself, I noticed the person across from me had a look of dread on my face. What surprise was coming? A big drop. I’ve experienced rapids drops on Kali River Rapids and Grizzy River Rapids, but the drops felt far more unnerving on River Quest. While drops on those two rapids are smooth and controlled, River Quest pinballs you off the side of the trough. And of course, whoever lands backwards gets drenched.
But the really terrifying drop is the second one. It begins with the trademark Hafema whirlpool. It’s a quirky and relaxing element reminiscent of those raft slides I rode at Bayern and Skyline. But up ahead, I couldn’t see the trough. At the end of the whirlpool, there’s an even steeper plunge. The splashdown is intense. The deceleration is so sudden that if you aren’t holding on, you can be flung across the boat. Like drop one, the victim going backwards is soaked from head to toe.
Still in shock over the ferocity of the second drop, I forgot about the third drop. This is the only one visible off-ride and it may be the steepest of all. It’s short, but it occurs immediately after the second drop. It’s definitely the tamest of the drops, but it’s the coolest visually because of the waterfalls on both sides of the boat.
The two different tracks of Winjas are considered two of the best spinning coasters out there. Like River Quest, I don’t really want to give anything away. I knew Winjas had some tricks up its sleeve from reviews, but I intentionally didn’t spoil them. And I am glad I didn’t.
What I will say is that both sides interact very well with Wuze Town. The middle portion of both sides is that giant picturesque helix around the funky observation tower attraction. There are several drops and like all spinning coasters, they’re particularly great if you’re traveling in reverse and can’t see them coming. This one also maintains its spinning throughout. Then there are the tricks. I guarantee you that you will say “WTF” at least 3-4 times with a big smile plastered across your face.
I slightly preferred the Fear side since it had an extra drop than Force, but they’re both fantastic coasters. I definitely haven’t been on a better spinning coaster. While that could change with Time Traveler next year, Winjas completes the trifecta of great coasters at Phantasialand. 9 out of 10
The odd observation tower has an equally as odd name, the Tittle Tattle Tree. The ride is the de-facto best way to observe and photograph Winjas since the coaster circles around this attraction. It’s a very rare and unique ride. Basically you ride in these little buckets and alternatively ascend and descend the tower. The ascents and descents are faster than you’d expect too. 6 out of 10
Temple of the Night Hawk is affectionately called Temple of the No Hawk by coaster enthusiasts and I can understand why. The entrance and queue line has the same level of theming as Phantasialand’s other coasters. I boarded expecting much of the same on this indoor coaster. Instead I was treated to total darkness.
The ride was smooth and fun. It just wasn’t what I was expecting. There weren’t any drops, but pitch-black setting made the ride’s turns and helixes a surprise. I think the most impressive aspect was the ride’s length; it had 3 lifts. I’ll sign a petition to change the ride’s name to No Hawk, but it’s still a pretty fun family coaster. 7 out of 10
Hollywood Tour was an interesting dark ride. It was basically the Great Movie Ride without a guide on a boat. The ride began with a tiny drop a la Pirates of the Caribbean and the rest of the ride passed scenes from iconic American movies such as Jaws. It dragged for bits of the ride, but it was still a decent little dark ride. 6 out of 10
Hotel Tartuff was a very pleasant surprise. We saw it listed on the map and figured it was some sort of walkthrough. After a 5 minute wait, we boarded an elevator and were shown a video of some insane German guy screaming at us. We were baffled, we were confused, but we knew we were in for a treat.
It ended up being a classic fun house not too far off from Grona Lund’s Lustiga Huset! There were sliding stairs, spinners, barrels, rollers, and all sorts of classic fun house gags. There were a few that were out-of-order, but the attraction compensated with its excellent theming. Usually fun houses have a graffiti-style facade and no theming whatsoever on the inside. Hotel Tartuff looks like a hotel. You pass through lobbies, bathrooms, hallways, etc. It really adds quite a bit to the experience.
Then it ends with one of the best slides I’ve ever experienced. It was one of those classic wooden slides, but this one was nearly vertical. You gained some serious speed and there was a hump halfway down that gave some terrifying air. This is definitely one of the park’s most underrated attractions. 10 out of 10
Talocan is considered the world’s best top spin by many. Add me to that group. Most top spins I’ve ridden only give 3-4 flips total. Talocan has 3 different points where it gives 4-5 consecutive flips. That alone makes it a pretty intense ride.
But what elevates Talocan is the theming. Talocan has the water, but it also adds fire (and lots of it). Then there’s also the weird, curved hieroglyphic wall. I thought it’d just make for a cool visual, but that wall also threw off my equilibrium and got me pretty disoriented. 10 out of 10
We had evening ERT on Taron, but before that we had time for one last ride. We went with the mad house, Feng Ju Palace. The pre-show was an interesting ninja battle. I’m not quite sure how that carried over to the on-ride story, but the movement was excellent and the main room was very well-themed. 8 out of 10.
ERT on Taron started later than anticipated, but I was able to finish with three front seat rides. That’s by far the best seat on the coaster. You get the rush of wind from the launches, all the cool visuals of Klugheim, and the strongest air on the ride in my opinion.
Phantasialand is an amazing park. The incredible theming combined with the collection of unique thrill rides makes it one of my favorite parks. Pretty much every ride is unique thanks to the layout, theming, or ride system. I can say with 100% confidence I’ll be returning to Phantasialand sometime in the near future, especially since they’re adding one of the pipe dreams of the enthusiast community, a launched flyer.
Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:49 am
Great trip report
And you are right about Colorado Adventure, it has great airtime in the back row, caught me off guard the first time I rode it
Wed Nov 15, 2017 11:34 am
Trying the G-rated Michael Jackson Thrill Ride in the back is something I'm looking forward to in my next visit.
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:06 pm
Chessington World of Adventures
All great trips must come to an end. Phantasialand concluded the TPR segment of the trip. My flight home routed me through London and I had a 10 hour layover between flights. Was I going to stay in Heathrow like a caged animal? Of course not. I had already visited London and Thorpe, so I decided to visit one of the other parks near London, Chessington World of Adventures.
Merlin has a monopoly on the London theme park scene. They have Thorpe for thrills and Legoland for kids. Chessington falls somewhere in between. It was a dreary Sunday with a good chance of rain. At this point, I knew that wouldn’t keep crowds away and my guess was correct. After Thorpe, Chessington had the worst lines of any park on my trip.
I think the worst part about the lines was how inaccurate the estimates were. They were so bad, it was laughable. 0-5 minute waits meant half hour waits. 60 minute waits meant half hour waits. Basically everything was a half hour wait. I’d say I boarded the queue before the wait time was updated, but they always remained unchanged after I finished my ride as well.
Since I was coming from the airport, I wanted to rent an all-day fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo. I packed surprisingly light for a 2 week trip to Europe (a single, very stuffed backpack), but lugging that around a theme park wasn’t ideal. The first set of fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo I went to were down. The second set of fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo I went to were also down.
Surely the third wouldn’t be down as well, would they? Sadly they were. Guess Chessington didn’t want to take my money for fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo. That made me miss Six Flags. fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo are one of their strengths. So needless to say I wasn’t off to a great start at Chessington.
I heard Vampire and Gruffalo have the two worst waits in the park, so my plan was to head towards Transylvania first. My route took me past Rattlesnake, the park’s wild mouse, so I decided to knock that out while it was still a walk-on. And it ended up being my only walk-on of the day. As far as wild mice go, it was quite good. The top section was unbraked and the dips at the end passed through a series of tunnels/enclosures. 6 out of 10
After my little detour, I reached Vampire. The wait was posted at 5 minutes, so I thought I beat the crowds. Nope. The queue was pretty far out in the garden and ended up being about a half hour. On the bright side, it gave me some time to take photos of Vampire. It’s a very photogenic coaster with how it interacts with the park’s walkways.
On the downside, I met one of the rudest guests I’ve ever encountered at a park. Someone kept nudging my back. I figured it was a young child. When I turned around, I saw it was just two young girls. One of them angrily said, “What are you looking at you dumb motherf*****?” I was absolutely stunned to hear that at a family park. Before I could respond, a concerned parent behind them started telling them off. But they simply just gave her the finger.
Fortunately I encountered them towards the end of my wait, so rather than make a scene I happily boarded the back row. Ultimately the coaster was just ok. It had the amazing setting and used it well, but the ride simply didn’t maintain its speed well. There were two solid drops, particularly the one after the second lift, but they were immediately followed by uphill bits that sapped the ride’s speed. The impact was minimal swinging, which was disappointing for a suspended coaster.
The other downside was that the coaster was surprisingly jerky. It felt like an Arrow. I was interested in a second ride. The queue still said 5 minutes so I naively thought it could have dissipated. Nope. It looked even longer than before, so I passed. Vampire was fun, but I couldn’t help thinking it could have been better. 6 out of 10
I was interested in hitting Gruffalo next, but it was temporarily closed. Unlike coasters when the test runs hint if the ride is about to reopen, I had no clue if this dark ride would reopen anytime soon, so I moved on to the park’s signature attraction, Dragon’s Fury.
The ride had a posted wait of 50 minutes. Fortunately I knew it had a single rider line. However, there was a gate in front of it saying to use the main queue. Today was just not my day. The queue didn’t look too long and fortunately it was only 20 minutes. Thankfully, I noticed that they opened the single rider line as I neared the station. That came in handy for rerides.
Unlike many of the other Maurer spinners, Dragon’s Fury has a large, sprawling layout. Most spinning coasters only have one large drop and then a series of twists and turns. Dragon’s Fury has three huge drops that are particularly awesome if you experience them in reverse. The ride of course has some helixes and s-curves too. The cars also spin non-stop during the ride, which is another plus.
It wasn’t as good as Winjas, but I’d be hard pressed to name a better spinner. It was on par with EuroMir and Turbulence, two rides I really enjoyed. Since the single rider line got me on in less than 5 minutes, Dragon’s Fury was the only ride at Chessington I rerode. It was also hands down the park’s best ride too. 8 out of 10
Chessington had one of those disko coasters. I hadn’t been on one in a few years and remember enjoying the one at California’s Great America, so I decided to give Kobra a ride. There was no posted wait time, but it ended up being about 15 minutes.
The ride had some fantastic spinning and I love how time seemingly stands still as you spin over the slow-mo hump in the center of the layout. The only downside is that I think I got a really unlucky seat. I never got a full trip up the spike. Still it’s markedly better than the standard diskos. 7 out of 10
I had planned to hit the park’s log flume next, but the ride was closed for the year. I hadn’t been paying attention to my Chessington news, but apparently it’s being rethemed for 2018. Based on the hints, I’m guessing it’ll be something tiger related.
After a quick lunch at the fish and chips restaurant (it was quite good), I went back to check on the Gruffalo River Ride Adventure. It hadn’t opened yet, but there were two employees stationed by the entrance and a decent-sized line had formed. Since it looked close to opening, I joined the back. About 5 minutes later, they opened the queue and the wait time skyrocketed to 60 minutes.
Surely the capacity couldn’t be that bad? By this point, I suspected the wait time was skewed towards the high end and I was correct. The line moved slowly, but it only took a half hour. I was still shocked the line took that long considering that there weren’t too many people ahead of me and the ride had a continuous loading system.
Fans of Chessington were sad to see their original Bubbleworks ride replaced by Gruffalo. I had seen several videos and pictures of the ride on this site and it looked incredibly cool. I couldn’t believe they were removing it. Thankfully they retained the ride system, but it received a whole new story.
Going in, I hadn’t a clue who or what the Gruffalo was, but it looked like some cheap Cartoon Network ripoff of Chewbacca. A majority of the ride was composed of screens, which was a stark contrast to what I saw in videos of the old Bubbleworks ride. I have a very strong preference for practical sets on dark rides, but I still enjoyed the ride since the animation was crisp and the story was well-told.
There were some practical sets and they were easily the ride’s strength. There was one lone Gruffalo animatronic and it was quite impressive. I also liked the funky little drop midway through that was followed by a series of overhead jumping fountains.
Ultimately it was an enjoyable ride. While the prior attraction maybe was better, Gruffalo is a good attraction. Did I wish they used animatronics instead of screens? Of course. But when I looked past that, I did enjoy the ride for its unique ride system and story. 8 out of 10
I had just over an hour before my bus left towards Heathrow and I had two rides left. First was the last credit, Scorpion Express. The wait was posted at 5 minutes, but it really took closer to 20-30 minutes due to painfully slow loading. This was yet another powered coaster and this time is was the familiar double helix layout.
But Chessington added some nice theming to an otherwise dull layout. There’s a fire burst on the first lap (I’ve never seen that one a kiddie coaster before) and a squirting scorpion. Ok that sounds kind of wrong, but it’s this giant mechanical scorpion that sprays riders with water. 4 out of 10
The last ride I wanted to hit was Tomb Blaster. It was posted at 40 minutes, which was actually accurate. The queue was actually very cool. The outdoor bit was a series of swinging rope bridges and elevated tree-houses that looked more like a playground than a queue line. Then the indoor bit was exactly what you’d expect, a themed Egyptian tomb.
The ride system for this shooting dark ride was unlike any I had ever seen before. Instead of having an omnimover system or single cars, this one has a 6 car train almost like a roller coaster. For a well-traveled coaster enthusiast, it was quite the sight.
The ride itself was among the best shooters I’ve been on. The Egyptian theme was maintained throughout and there were a ton of different targets to hit. Many of the targets moved or reacted to being shot, which is a major plus I look for with these types of rides. 9 out of 10
I only had a little time before my bus arrived. I didn’t have time to try the park’s Zufari safari ride, but I did have time to stroll through a few of their animal areas. It wasn’t as large as a full zoo, but it was pretty impressive for a theme park.
Overall Chessington was a solid family park even though I had some warts during my visit. The lines were annoying, but understandable, but I had a few other random things stack-up like the rude guests in line for Vampire and the out-of-order fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo. With London, Thorpe, and two superior parks a train ride away, I can’t see myself returning to Chessington anytime soon. But for their targeted audience (kids, families), it’s a nice park.
Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:49 pm
Amazing! Glad you had a great time!
Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:29 am
Thanks! It was interesting to experience the diversity of all these parks. I had resort parks, thrill parks, family parks, etc.
Sat Nov 18, 2017 4:00 pm
Just catching up on this incredible report. Oktoberfest, Europa, and Phantasialand are all bucket list parks for me. The more I see of them, the more I like them. Glad you had a good time there and in the other more obscure parks too.
Chessington looks really great! I was surprised that it looks so good. I don't hear much about that place, and what I do hear is largely negative. It looks to be really fun, especially that Vampire ride. Thanks for sharing!
Sat Nov 18, 2017 4:34 pm
Chessington somehow had the longest queues of my trip and several little things kept going wrong, but overall the park was a well-themed family park. Dragon's Fury is the real star; Vampire is the more photogenic ride though.
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