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Phantasialand (With a bit of Milan too)

Smithy

Strata Poster
Have heard and seen a lot about Phantasialand, particularly after Taron's arrival and I've wondered what all the hype was about. Was due a big theme park trip too after not really doing much this year so figured out that Phantasialand was possible on the cheap, then decided to ignore that initial idea and just splash out on staying in Matamba too after weeks of umming and ahhing about how to approach my visit.

The usual early morning flight out of Stansted to Cologne (that thankfully wasn't cancelled), then it was a case of using the absolutely amazing Deutche Bahn app to figure out how to get to the park. There's several ways involving trains, busses and trams, but I settled on a specific route; train from Cologne airport (CGN KölnBonn Airport) to Cologne central (Köln HBF), and from there another train on to Brühl. Then there was a specific Phantasialand shuttle bus right outside the station. Entire journey takes about an hour, and there's a service to either every 20 minutes or so. I wanted to take a quick minute to go outside central Cologne station to have a quick gander at the cathedral. Would recommend at least giving it a look if you're passing, free to go in and have a wander too;

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Got to the park around lunchtime, checked into the hotel but the rooms aren't ready until 3:30 so got our tickets (and fast passes, more on them later), left our bags and headed into the park. No staff on the front entrance at all so we literally just scanned ourselves in and away we went. Obviously not as security conscious as we are over here I guess. First impressions were that the park looks amazing, with the small little opening area opening up into a vast area with the swing ride in the central square. Went for a wander first as most queue times were 5 minutes or so and we were in no rush to jump on anything. After heading over towards Klugheim, the noise and sight of Taron takes you back somewhat. It's just one big cluster**** of track, 90% of the area is incredible, intricately themed, all interlocking and interacting with each other. Spoilt somewhat by the big green sheet steel at the back of the area, but once the greenery they've added to the fencing on that sides grows to cover it it won't be noticeable.

On the other side of the bridge, you get what is probably the cliche view of the park in Chiapas last drop. After ride-watching for a bit, we decided to head over and get the water ride done first and started with River Quest. Having never heard about what it did, or seen any POV's, I was surprised to say the least when we entered a lift. And then all the more surprised when I saw how high we went, and how steep the drop was. And then I was ****ing soaked. That there's at elast two more drops with steep drops, plus the plughole bit; it was just brilliant, everyone on our boat got drenched, it was the best quality and best theme water ride we've been on.

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Not the sort of drop you expect on a rapids ride.

After that, we squelched our soggy messes over to Chiapas. I had seen a quick POV of this so was prepared somewhat for the backwards segment. As daunting as that last big drop looks off ride though, nothing prepares you for just how it feels on-ride. It goes on and on and on. Didn't actually get that wet on this which was a surprise. Great ride though, the park has two very solid water rides on offer.

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They really have gone to town on the details

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After actually caving in and using one of those industrial heater things to try and stop my trainers from squelching around for the rest of the day, we then went and grabbed some food. Settled on some noodles from the chinese area, only later realising they came recommended on here in the topic I'd set up previously. Decent portion size for the price. Went on the ghost train thing that I struggle to remember anything about, and then we decided to get our first credit and went to find Black Mamba. Fully feeling my age at remembering following the construction of it on here, it does look amazingly impressive the way it just pops out in amongst the area. It also makes it a ballache to take picture of, in fact the best place we found was from inside Matamba.

Queued for five minutes and that was only on one train operation. Mid-train, first impression was that it was amazing. The pull into the first loop was really intense, the zero-g amazing and the next inversion I'm still not sure what it even is. Then it's just relentless throwing you about the area and back into the darkness. Really scrambles the sense, but never uncomfortably so, ended with a brake run in pitch black darkness.

Then headed over to Colorado Adventure. Expected your typical mine-train fare. Nah, this was much better. A proper mine train, picks up speed well, has some sharp transistions and big drops. Enjoyable, but a bit too much for us to re-ride in a rush. As per, brilliantly themed throughout and interacts with surrounding rides and environment. Decided to then stomach the queue for Taron and get it out of the way as we were expecting ERT later in the day. Loved that the queue (that we were in on a quiet day) took you all around the ride, meaning plenty of vantage points for images of it.

Covered my thoughts on my first ride in the top 10 topic but to summarise, I wasn't that impressed with it at all after a first run. One great airtime hill and one great second launch, but the rest was just windy nonsense I dont really enjoy. Also found the last whip before the break runs particularly painful to the point it left my ribs sore.

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I swear 50% of all the images I took were of Taron. Gave Raik a go, second row. Meh, so-so. Good family coaster, really do feel that you have to sit at the very back to appreciate these more. The interactin is great though, it is just tucked away underneath everything for the most part. Went to go mop up the rest of the credits, starting with the indoor coaster. I knew that it was long, wasn't prepared for just how long. Never been too keen on coasters fully in the dark as I find them hard to brace for each impact when it's a bit rough. Thankfully this wasn't too bad, but it wasn't that great either.

Then across to the other side of the park and onto the two Winja's. Which have 1 queue. And had no real way to decide which one you wanted to go on unless you either jumped the barrier, or waited until you got to the front of Fear and pushed across and hoped the people who had jumped the barrier for Force didn''t moan. As for the rides, I hated the titled lift/release at the start, the ride itself was great fun as these type of spinners are, and the whole stopping and track rotating threw me completely. Straight back round for Force, definitely the better side, mainly for that epic little trick track at the very end that Im still trying to establish how they manage it.

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Coasters done, we had a wander round and I had a look at the topic I'd set on here. Saw the funhouse mentioned along with Maus au Chocolat so went and gave them ago. The fun house was a solic recommendation, absolutely brilliant fun. Basically a fixed-place Alpen Hotel which we both loved from WW. Maus au Chocolate was amazing too, perfect mix of several concepts, shooting ride, dark ride and 3D. I'm convinced it smelled of chocolate inside too. We then saw Talocan testing so went and watched a quick rotation on it. Never a fan of flat rides and a quick look at this one confirmed we wouldn't be going on it. Hugely impressive to watch, looks like one hell of an intense ride too.

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We grabbed a burger and some chips which were disgusting, and then headed over to the Chinese area to wait for our hotel ERT. We allowed a bit of a wait as the park was still emptying out at 6:15, and then started to worry that with thunder and lightning nearby it wouldn't happen. But eventually, they opened it up and we joined the shortened SRQ and boarded after a short wait whilst they circled the ride with empty trains, presumably to get it back up to speed. So, our second ride, at the end of a warm day, in the drizzle. As I said in the top 10 thread, ****ing unreal. Struggled to keep my arms up in the air after the first bend, the airtime was ridiculous and the second half was just mental. Straight back round to try it at the very back and, whilst it was rougher, it was still out of this world. One more go and gf was starting to feel a bit too tender to carry on so we went and gave Raik a go, think we were the only people who actually did too. They'd also kept open the creperie in Klugheim so people could buy food and drink too which was good of them.

Exited the park through Ling Bao's entrance and had a quick look around the gardens before getting our stuff back at Matamba and checking into our room. Which was brilliant for it's novelty;

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Particularly the campbed we had to go along with our main bed

We also had a brilliant view right outside the window;

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After an early night, we went down for breakfast after a wander through the Matamba grounds. Again, brilliantly themed and offering amazing views of Mamba which by now was testing. The hotel breakfast was basically an advanced continental, so we settled on sausage and scrambled eggs, a few pastries and half an ethiopian pastry that wasn't for us. Went for an explore of the hotel and found the 'kids' play area;

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Second day on park was spent re-riding everything we wanted to, as well as mopping up the rides we'd missed like Hollywood Tour or some of the smaller rides in the back of the park. Purposely missed out the drop tower as they're just not our bag. Bit of a spoiler to be had in that Taron had a 50 minute queue, which extrened out into a giant soulless concrete square cattlepen with no themeing or interaction or anything at all attractive. Really, really poor because by most parks standards it'd be fine, but by Phantasialand it stuck out like a sore thumb. Queued for the front row and it was just as good as we remembered it, my lasting memory of those last few rides are that I'm genuinely surprised we weren't thrown out of it. It was insane. It's not as good as Helix, possibly because of the lack of inversions and airtime, but it does offer an out-of-control feeling that no other coaster I've been on comes close to.

Had to leave before our second day of ERT to make sure we could get back in enough time so took a few more pictures and joined the massive queue for the shuttle bus.

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Honestly think this might be the most photogenic coaster I've seen

Phantasialand as a whole, I was impressed if not a little underwhelmed by it as a whole. It's a weird one, I'm surprised a park of this size has two large hotels because I don't feel like they've got nearly enough to justify them, it's definitely not ready to be classed as resort as yet. The park itself is odd too, in that the main entrance way is gorgeous, and everything to the right of that is brilliantly themed in intricate detail. Yet to the left, it's basically Wuze Town and little else. The indoor coaster is just one big gaudy factory building with faded paint, and then it's' a massive boring walk round to the water ride that's running in observation mode so none of the effects are working. It basically feels like the right hand side of the park makes the left seem like its been forgotten about, it's definitely not up to the standards of the rest of it which is a shame. Maybe that'll improve somewhat when F.L.Y opens and they start to focus on that side because the scope for development in that entire area is huge, especially around the lake.

That's not to say I didn't love the place, just that I feel the overall standards set by the best parts of the park weren't visible in that part. Klugheim is an absolutely incredible area, probably my favourite in any park. 2 days was more than enough though, having re-ridden everything we wanted and having time to relax and stroll around taking it all in. I've probably missed a fair bit out in the above, which is easily done when you factor in what we did immediately after landing at Stansted at half ten on Wednesday night.





Namely, changing our cases over at the car, getting a bus to the Premier Inn, getting a couple of hours sleep and then going back to Stansted for an 8:45 flight out to Milan on the Thursday morning. It was literally the cheapest flight on Skyscanner so we took it, and figured we'd find something to do from there. I'll be a bit more light on the detail here but yeah, have some pretty pictures;

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We went to the Duomo.

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We went inside the Duomo.

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We went on top of the Duomo. Random woman really wanted to be in our picture.

Whilst there, we came across a large group of Rijeka fans who were over for their Europa League game against Ac Milan that we were also attending. It was a big game for them, their first big European game so a team that averages less than 5k crowds brought over 5k people into central Milan to dance, sing, cheer, and launch flares, firecrackers, smoke bombs and make nazi salutes. Yeah, it was a bit sketchy at times, and set the tone for later in the day.

Grabbed some food and then headed over to the San Siro, hoping to avoid the worst of the drunken Croatians. Arrived at the metro station and was greeted by scores and scores of armed riot police, complete with shields, batons, shin pads and toecaps, complete with a look of absolute ****ing menace. If only they could have taken their obvious aggression out on the many hawkers outside who tried to physically grab you to whack a "free" bracelet on your wrist before demanding money. Honestly, they were absolutely everywhere and would not take no for an answer unless it was literally shouted at them.

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Inside the ground and first impressions were mixed. It's amazingly imposing in it's size, but it's massively worn and dirty in places. Definitely not a patch on the comfortable, modern stadia I'm used to over here;

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Bit of a pathetic showing from Milan tbh, less than 22k fans turned up and at least 4500 of them were from Rijeka. The game was a bit naff, Milan scraped to a 2 goal lead and we left after things kicked off (as shown below), and then missed 2 late Rijeka goals to make it 2 all before a last second winner from Cutrone (the wonderkid on the back of my shirt) settled it. We were safely on the metro away from any potential riots though so I'll take that one.

They'd lit flares and firecrackers all match, which is a ****ing terrifying thing to hear in a massiv echoey football stadium given recent events. They then started raining flares down on the fans at which point I stopped filming to make sure we could get out of the way if necessary

Second day in Milan was basically just spent wandering around. Played a bit of Pokemon, wandered around the fashion districts gawping at the prices and questioned the 'fashion';
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We ended up walking to the main park in Milan, and through an open castle building that had doubled up as a giant farming festival. There was loads of taster fod and the like on offer but we couldn't figure out the voucher system they were using for payment so we just wandered around for a bit seeing what was on offer. Back into central Milan for some pizza (that was horrible), and then we headed into an art gallery that was off the Duomo that I knew had a great view of the square. There was also some 'art' inside.

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I've created better things on Microsoft Paint

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I refuse to accept this as art. He's clearly had a rage at his inability to draw and passed it off as being expressionist

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Does offer a great view of the Duomo, square and the shopping gallery though

Then flew back on a delayed flight, landed late, had our bags needlessly checked and got stuck in an hours worth of traffic getting onto the M11. Grand way to end a birthday getting home nearly 3 hours later than expected. Nice city was Milan, easy to get around, absolutely full of posers though. Appreciate the appreciation for fashion but it was absoutely silly at times.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
That pic of Duomo brings back bad memories of the era I'd go to crap like that instead of, say, something I enjoy.
I can see theyre still doing that pigeon feed trickery to tourists as well as your bracelet thing.
 

Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Social Media Team
Great to hear a bit more about your day in Phantasialand. Sounds like you had a good time! What did the other-half think? :p

Milan does look nice too - those flares look terrifying!
 

Smithy

Strata Poster
Yeah those ****ing pigeons were everywhere in that square. Having had a recent run-in with one that tried to land on my head (I didn't realise what it was and so punched it into a window, it was as ridiculous as it sounds) I wasn't too fond of them always scattering around for idiots to take pictures with.

She loved River Quest @Hixee, thought it was incredible. Found Mamba too intense, and at one stage during our ERT runs on Taron actually screamed my name out (giggity) because she thought she was physically about to be thrown out of the ride. Found Matamba amazing for it's theming, but did comment on the second day that there wasn't 'that' much to do at the park. Given our last visit was to Europa though, it's not that surprising. And yeah those flares look sketchy as **** but it's really just the smell that's the biggest issue with them (unless a bunch of nazi's start chucking them at you from above), it's the firecrackers I hated because they really do sound like a bomb going off.
 

Mysterious Sue

Strata Poster
Nice to see so many people enjoying Phantasialand right now. I wonder how much footfall has increased post-Taron. It can't just be goons that get pulled into the park by Taron's magnetic appearance.

That football match looks terrifying. Just another reason for me not to like football tbh.
 

CSLKennyNI

Giga Poster
Nice to see so many people enjoying Phantasialand right now. I wonder how much footfall has increased post-Taron. It can't just be goons that get pulled into the park by Taron's magnetic appearance.
2016 saw a 5% increase in visitors over 2015 - one of the biggest footfall (if not the biggest) increases in the park's history.
 
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