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It has been a while.... but F.L.Y. (and other stuff)

davidm

Strata Poster
Hello. It's been a while since I've done one of these, bit out of practice. Lets see how it goes...

So back in the pre-covid days of early 2020 I had booked a trip over the August 2020 bank holiday to go see that, then anticipated,
new addition to Phantasialand; FLY. Covid happened and one leg of my flights was cancelled (so I booked a replacement), then covid
happened a bit more and everything was cancelled. For a brief moment in Autumn 2020 everyone was a bit happier and FLY actually
opened, causing a major goon-rush towards Germany - I rebooked my cancelled flights for November rather than join in that initial
goon-rush, but then as November approached, Germany shut down and plan #2 was scuppered. Flights were rebooked for August 2021 in the
optimistic feeling that it might all be over by then. It wasn't, so as August approached I moved the flights to next year and sulked.

Meanwhile I had also got two weeks booked off from work in November, with flights (also moved from 2020) to Orlando. As we got towards
then, the USA was still not letting us Brits in, and Virgin Atlantic kindly cancelled those flights for me. So now I had 2 weeks off
work with nowhere to go, and rather than converting those days into "every Friday off work for the rest of the year" like I had done
in 2020 I figured I could do Ghosterforce and revive my Germany plan instead and move those flight (back from next year) to November!

So, if you are keeping track, that's Germany plan #4 we are on now.

Only to find that a flight I'd just booked was cancelled by the airline literally the next morning. So more flight rescheduled
happened, I went to Ghosterforce and told everyone not to give me the pox and that seemed to all work...

Plan #5 to go see FLY was still on... And it happened! Phew!!

--

Was a bit confused by the online check-in for my budget (Eurowings) flight, so headed to the airport stupid early to give me time to
sort any faff out. As it turned out the faff was minimal - just had to pickup boarding card at the check-in desk (having checked in
online already) where they just (quickly) checked your vaccine-pass-thing and German entry registration thing before they would give
you the boarding card.



Not very impressed by the "new" extensions to Manchester Airport to be honest - the check-in area was much bigger and quite posh (but
not finished yet either), security was better than the old T2 and I guess the departures area was a bit more spacious than the old
T2 (I remember when T2 was brand new!) but they still funnel you through the duty-free shop to get there. Given I was on a budget
flight the actual gate was back in the old T2 area, where all the old shops and eateries were all boarded up, but seeing them like that
was perhaps my highlight of the airport experience.





Germany airport-faff was new ; pre-immigration check (by the police) that you had completed the pre-enrty registration thing
(the Einreiseanmeldung) and then a longer than pre-Brexit line at immigration as we can't waltz thru the EU-citizens lane anymore :(

Getting from the airport (Düsseldorf) to Phantasialand was not hard, depending on what time I made it through the faff it would either
be a direct train to Brühl or 3 trains. It was 3 trains, bit still no great problem (apart from the middle train (the intercity from
Düsseldorf to Köln I apparently did not have the right ticket for, but the inspector let the stupid English tourist off).

My timing was still off when I got to Brühl as the shuttle bus had just left (literally saw it leave when I was getting off the train)
so I took the opportunity to have a looksee at the Schloss (right by the train station) and the town itself which I wanted to do at
some point anyway. The town is pretty nice actually, glad I had a wander through it anyway.



(Walking to Phantasialand rather than waiting for the next bus took about 45mins - theres a few uphill bits so not recommended if you
have heavy bags! :) )

Was just before 2pm when I got there, the check-in to Charles Lindbergh was easy and had some theatre about it all (clerk runs thru
some themed speil around the whole experience) - bit odd that you have to book specific times for meals and breakfast tho' ; whether
that's a covid thing or a capacity-thing I don't know?





Anyway, dumped my stuff in my room (aka aeronaut cabin) and goon-rushed into the park. :)



Initial impressions of the place - the hotel, Rookburgh, FLY - were that it was all rather FABULOUS. Coaster whizzing around your
room, all the themeing on-point, wandering into Rookburgh totally hidden from the rest of the park - great stuff.







Headed straight into FLY; 5 min queue it said - happy days!



The queue-line is immense - after a pretty unimpressive start where you just go up some stairs into the body of the FLY-structure it
then winds and wends its way around the structure giving you several great views of the ride as you go. Eventually (its a long walk,
not quite Zadra-long but still pretty long) you end up at a split point for front-row or anywhere - I head for front-row as there
is literally no line and get given a red wristband (blue wristbands are the norm) and head to the lockers.





Now this is where my goon-haste has failed me, as you have to dump everything in a locker, including my glasses even with a goonstrap
attached. So between the lockers and the station I am pretty much unable to see much. Waiting then in the front row queue - theres
a fair few people ahead of me and they are running mostly empty trains (apart from the front). By then I've decided I should have
put some contact lenses in before my goonrush into the park, so I switch to the normal queue for my first ride (since the view from
the front would be somewhat lost on me).

Even half-blind, the loading is really easy - MUCH better than the old-style Flying Dutchman loading or the B&M version. Given my
vision I could not make much of the pre-launch stuff, only enough to determine that there was stuff, but as the train rolled around
into the flight position and dropped into that first launch I could already tell that this was going to be a good experience.



First ride is all a blur (literally) but it was still AWESOME. LOVED IT. Such a clever way of dropping you into flight-position then
straight into the first launch - such drama. Then whizzing around the hotel and all the near-misses. LOVELY. Then diving into the
second launch and flying airtime - WOW. The ride is much longer than expected too - a real trip. The return to seated position at the
end was a bit clunky I think and then trying to find my way back half-blind to the lockers was a pain though.



Anyway, I went straight back to the hotel, inserted contact lenses and straight back into the non-existent queue for a few more
rides. Rode it at the front and the back - the front is by far the better "view" experience, but the flying sensation and the ride
itself is still great in the middle of the train. The further back you get in the train the more nauseous I think though, I rode it on
the back and felt a bit queasy (but this was ride #5 in a short space of time) and some guy a couple of rows ahead of me was throwing
up on the exit platform - poor show fella.

Anyway, since it would be down for a while for the biological issues, I headed out of Rookburgh into the park proper and rode Taron
half a dozen walk-on times (like a 3 train wait for the front, walk-on elsewhere). Deep joy.



It was heading towards park-closing time by then and pretty dark, so I headed towards the other "big" ride (Mamba), pausing only to
get a quick ride on Colorado Adventure as I was passing (the inside bits in the dark were excellent as it was pitch black in there
unlike daytime rides where you can see in the inside bits).



Walked into the Black Mamba queue bang on 5:30 (which is when they shut the line) - walk-on and an almost empty train meant I got
row 2 on the last train of the day.



FLY had also closed the queue by then so that was that so I tried to take some photos and headed back to see Rookburgh at night.

It's very pretty at night. You can wander all around the hotel structure for views, but there is a dedicated "observation area" on
the middle block of rooms that they do direct you to.

Would have liked a better camera, a tripod and the train running to get some good shots from the hotel of FLY, but I tried a bit with
the compact camera I had with me. Not too happy with these, looks a lot nicer for real.







Included in the (non trival) Charles Lindbergh Hotel experience is your evening meal at Uhrwerk restaurant - day-punters can use the
restaurant during park-hours but it and the Bar1919 behind it are limited to Lindbergh guests during the evening. As mentioned
earlier you currently have to book specific times for meals and, despite the hotel being quite quiet, I ended up with a later slot
that I would have chosen, but that just meant I had to go wait in the "craft beer" Bar1919 for an hour before food.



Now I'm not as much of a beer-geek as a I am a coaster-geek, but I do spend more of my leisure time drinking beer than riding
coasters so I do know my way around that "craft beer" scene. And despite the adverts and several nice beers, any bar that is describing
itself as a "craft-beer-bar" yet serving Guinness and macro-lager as part of that craft-beer range is just lying to you.



It started out well, as I could get a flight (4 smaller servings) of some of the beers and the first lot were all OK, if not "craft".

That got me to food-time so I went next-door to Uhrwerk. This was OK too, but I wasn't too impressed with the seating arrangements
(quite cramped next to other diners) and their beer selection (not included in your overnight rate) was all generic bottled lagers.



The food was good enough though - had a salad starter and the steak-burger - had I no already paid for the meal as part of the stay
I would only have had the burger though. The menu is not extensive either, but nicely presented on a (German language only) newspaper
type menu (as was the beer-list in the Bar1919).



Back in Bar1919 is where it started to go wrong for the "craft-beer" bar ; I went for another flight and 3 of the 4 beers I wanted
they did not have (despite being advertised in the newspaper-menu). So that flight had exhausted the interesting beer options they
had and I was down to repeat orders after that ; something that I had not expected with a specialist "craft-beer" bar.



Oh, and the bar was empty ; there were a couple of other punters on and off but few people seemed to want to stop there after their
meal - the restaurant was mostly busy, but only a handful of people stopped in Bar1919 on their way back to their rooms.

 

davidm

Strata Poster
Next morning breakfast in the same place was also OK (not super great) - reasonable selection but faffy service (big thick slabs of
wood as "trays" and strange bowls rather than plates) - but breakfast while FLY did its morning test runs around you was quite cool.



Today was a full day at Phantasialand - was staying 2 nights at the Lindbergh - so having got all my goonanxiety out of my system in
the half-day I had the day before, this was a much more relaxed day of just wandering around the place riding stuff as I felt like it.

The whole time I was here the park was pretty empty - literally no queue on most things, think the "biggest" line I encountered was
once on Taron where the line ended about 20 yeards outside the station - so like a 3 train wait, such hardship.

Anyway I started the day with a couple of nice rides on FLY to blow the cobwebs away and then set off to play around in the rest of
the park.

The ride op on Winjas annoyed me ; I had ridden Force and he would not let me ride Fear when I went around again so had to go around
again (again) and got Fear that time. He was doing that to other peeps who also wanted one specific side - just not friendly at all. There was no line so what his problem was I dunno - boo. Anyway both are nice little rides, but the Wuzetown area is looking a bit
dated nowadays compared to Klugheim and Rookburgh I reckon. Lot of dead space in that building, lots of walls and nothingness. Could
do with it all being updated with the same sort of immersive-eye as they have taken on their newer areas I think.





Also the walk around the lake was sealed-off for some reason.



Rode Crazy Bats (no VR, but I notice that they have just put the VR back on now for Wintertraum now) which is a good coaster but
somewhat un-impressively presented , stuck down a (now) dead-end back alley and with a clunky queue-line to the station.









Walked onto front row of Black Mamba - nice. There was a couple ahead of me who looked a bit perplexed that someone else wanted
to sit on the seats that they were not using, but then another lonely enthusiast ("Hi" if you read this) also turned up to fill the
fourth seat and all was right in the world again.





Cycled Taron for quite a while, mostly walking around after each ride and straight back on, but occasionally staying on the train
when no-one was waiting. Nice.









Got wet on Chiapas, River Quest was not running though so did not get even wetter on that :(



Took a break mid afternoon to go take some daytime pics of FLY from around the hotel - not sure that they are that much good though.























Dodgy panorama;







Picture, ruined;



After that I went back to FLY and had 4 rides back-to-back without leaving the station - beacuse there was so little line they just
let us off the train at the usual place but then just let us through a door between the plaforms straight onto the load platform the
other side (so not even into the small queue area, straight into the airgates).

Was feeling a bit queasy to be honest after 4 straight rides (so NOT as re-rideable as Taron IMHO) so was glad that a small amount of
peeps had turned up and they stopped opening the door then :)



So definitely one of my best days ever at a park that was!







Same thing in the evening as the day before - some beer in Bar1919 and food in Uhrwerk - had the pasta this time rather than another
burger (have said the menu is a bit limited), and while the sauce was OK, the pasta itself was pretty awful, tasted liked tinned
spaghetti. So don't have the pasta would be my recommendation.

 

davidm

Strata Poster
Day 3 at the park was just going to be another 1/2 day, quick lap of the place. So a couple of rides on Mamba, Colorado and Taron,
followed by an ill-advised ride on Talocan because I was feeling brave. Finished up with a couple of rides on FLY utilising my "Charles
Lindberg Tickets" to save the long walk through the queue-line (the entrance for this just takes you straight into the batching room
where they hand out the locker wristbands).











Lovely stuff then, my little trip to Phantasialand was pretty much a great success. :)



--







Got the shuttle bus back to Bruhl, then the train into Koln after that and checked into a hotel near the station. Spent the next
few days wandering around Koln - Museum Ludwig was very good (culture!).













--

The Thursday was a bit odd though - there was this local "Karnival" thing going on - which meant that all the locals were out on the
beer all day. Like literally all day - vast queues of fancy dressed people drinking tins of Kolsch while queuing to get into the
local bars at 9:30 in the morning. Good effort.





Karnival rather put paid to my "have a couple of quiet beers in the evening" plans though ; by mid afternoon the city was carnage.
I did find a relatively peaceful Brauhaus for some Schnitzel and a couple of Kolsch but the nicer bars in the old-town that I had
frequented the night before were all in the sealed-off ticket-only Karnival area so I could not get to them even if they had not
been full of fancy-dressed-pissed-up locals.




--

OK that's it. Fab little trip away (4 nights), happy Dave.




 
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Dar

Hyper Poster
I didn't know it was possible to hate someone so much based on one trip report! :p

You just described my ideal, rainbow fantasy land, widest dreams trip to Phantasialand/cologne except you didn't go to the local waterpark!

The stately home in Brühl looks gorgeous, we did a similar walk on our last trip but it was too late to go inside, tempted to add an afternoon for a proper wander round next time we go.

Did you eat anywhere else on park? I usually just end up at the faithful jambalaya stand so I'm always interested in other people's favourites!

And would you say hotel Charles Lindbergh is worth the cost? Did you miss being able to use the pool in ling bao? :D
 

davidm

Strata Poster
^ ha.

Didn't eat anything on-park apart from a bit of fruit as a mid-day snack - no need ; big breakfast will last me the day.

Whether CLH is "worth the cost" all depends ; I had not spent any money for 2 years on "holidays" so I was ignoring the cost mostly. Its is expensive, the rooms are very small; OK for me on my own or a couple, but if you are just sharing the room with a pal then you are going to need to be on very familiar terms with that pal ;) . The food was good, but not a wide selection, the bar was good but again limited selection, the "ambience" of the hotel was FAB though.
For me it was worth doing, would I do it again? - Maybe, but probably just one night in CLH - Matamba is more conformable rooms for groups of people I would think.
 
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Howie

Strata Poster
Cor blimey, it's been a long time since we've had a good 'Mort Report' to read on here! You haven't lost your touch - all key ingredients present and correct. Creds, culch, craft(ish) beers and cool photos. Good to see you back on the horse, as it were. 👍
 

Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Social Media Team
I'm with @Howie - I enjoyed that one. Great write up of a great sounding trip.

Very jealous now, though. :D
 

oriolat2

Giga Poster
That review almost made me go online and book the next available flight to Cologne. I really love Phantasialand and Taron, and I am really intrigued to see if F.L.Y lives up to the reputation.

I have a question, what does Phantasialand offer as a perk for on-site hotels? Just F.L.Y ERT or have they also included Rookbourgh too?
 

davidm

Strata Poster
^ for the Charles Lindbergh Hotel you get a one-time-per-person "Charles Lindbergh Ticket" (i.e. fastpass, not ERT) for FLY for each day you are there (so one night = 2 tickets, but you can use the tickets anytime) and park-entry and breakfast and dinner included and access to Bar1919 and a dedicated entrance to Rookburgh (but of course you are paying for all that in your hotel-rate :) )

The other hotels - I don't really know, I thought all that was a "perk" was the Hotel ERT of Taron which only happened (I think) during the low-seasons anyway?
 

oriolat2

Giga Poster
I stayed at Ling Bao last week and there's no perks. I believe the Taron ERT hasn't happened at all this season.
That was a deal breaker for me. Such a pity as it was awesome to basically have the ride to yourself to lap once the GP had had enough (most people stop riding after 2 goes).
 

Nicky Borrill

Giga Poster
The hotel guests Taron ERT hasn’t been offered since corona began.
Do you know if it is ‘because of corona?’ Or was it always the plan for the opening of RB? Do you know if it’s coming back or not?

Such a shame it’s gone, I really have no drive to book anywhere other than CL without the Matamba / Ling Bao perks :/
 

CSLKennyNI

Giga Poster
Do you know if it is ‘because of corona?’ Or was it always the plan for the opening of RB? Do you know if it’s coming back or not?

Such a shame it’s gone, I really have no drive to book anywhere other than CL without the Matamba / Ling Bao perks :/
Because of corona. It was planned for 2020 before the pandemic struck and RB got delayed. Still mentioned on their website in their hotel FAQs as “currently can’t be offered”. So there’s hope/a good chance I think it will return.
 
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