Exploring the underrated Phantasialand theme park in Germany
I think I found my new favourite European Theme Park...
Nestled between Cologne and Bonn, in the little town of Bruhl, Phantasialand is a hot favourite theme park among German locals yet remains relatively unknown to the rest of the outside world. When people think of amusement parks, they will first picture Disney characters prancing around or the thrilling rides of Universal Studio, but few would know or have heard about Phantasialand.
As fans of theme parks, we always make it a point to visit one on our travels. However, limitations of the winter season always reduce our choices to just a few or even none. While many theme parks close for the season, Phantasialand holds its Winteraum (winter event), allowing the young and old to still have fun in the midst of the icy cold winter. We won‘t deny that we kind of chose to head to fly to Dusseldorf from Singapore instead of the usual Frankfurt entry just because it was much closer to the theme park...
This blog post is our review of the park and to once again relieve our excitement and joy when visiting this amazing amusement park.
How to get to Phantasialand Theme Park in Bruhl, Germany?
The best way to get to Phantasialand is actually to rent a car and drive. Driving is especially useful as you do not need to squeeze with the rest of the crowd on the shuttle bus and you can basically head there and leave the park whenever you would like.
Because this time we entered Germany in Dusseldorf and were leaving through Cologne, we decided to give the rental car a miss and to take the equally or if not more efficient public transport. You will need to take a regional train to Brühl Train Station or the Brühl Mitte Station and then transfer to one of Phantasialand's shuttle buses (costs 3 euros).
The Phantastic Themed Worlds
Like many theme parks, Phantasialand is further segregated to a few different “worlds”. The theming of the park takes the form of different countries and mythical cultures.
First, there’s Berlin, and as the name suggests, mimics the German capital from the 1920s. Then there’s Mexico, which really reminds me of Coco (the Disney movie); Deep in Africa, which has tons of native African art and sandstone columns; Mystery (or Klugheim), identifiable by its huge Mystery Castle and is a mythical village built around the Old Norse culture; ChinaTown, with its unmissable Chinese-style red paper lanterns and architecture. Finally, there’s Fantasy, which houses fairy creatures and a warrior queen.
The entire park was beautifully themed and it was nice to just stroll around the park especially when the sun goes down. The buildings and streets in the theme park were all lit up. In the main square around the Wellenflug, there were numerous stores selling Glugwein (mulled wine) and people were just standing around and talking to their family and friends. It really did feel like a winter wonderland!
Navigating the park
Even with the map, it was honestly quite difficult to navigate parts of the park, especially to locate the entrance of some of the attractions and rides. It took a bit of walking to and fro to get to where we want to go, but with the nice and cool weather, we simply took that as an exercise.
Winter or Summer?
Winteraum at Phantasialand meant that the opening hours are shorter than those in Summer, but the frosty weather also equates to fewer people in the park and cheaper tickets! Though we had less time in the park, we managed to complete all the thrill rides and hardly had to queue more than 30 minutes. That being said, like most theme parks, the kiddy rides would see much longer queues.
For those who very much prefer the sun, summer, then it the best time to go. You can bask in the sun while on the rides but do be warned, summer queues are typically much longer. Should you be heading to Phantasialand in the summer, it is definitely advisable to get the Express Passes.
Phantasialand Must-Visit Rides
Even though the entire park is huge and all attractions are, in our opinion, worth a ride, should you have limited time and want to better plan your trip, these are the must-visit rides in Phantasialand.
Taron, a relatively new attraction, is the fastest and longest multi-launch coaster in the entire world. Located in Mystery, the coaster is the centrepiece of the entire “world”. Despite it just being a rollercoaster, Taron’s designers took the effort to ensure that even the walking and queue areas are themed. It is quite clear that the “world” was built around the coaster rather than the other way round.
With architecture built around the coaster, Taron is not just exciting for the riders, but also for the curious audience. The track twists and turns, goes up and down, ducking in between the tight spaces of the rock-walls and buildings and diving over itself, you know you simply have to find the entrance to this amazing coaster!
With tons of built-up excitement just by seeing the coaster, we rushed to the queue. Since we didn’t mind not sitting together, we head straight to the single rider queue. That helped as it was our turn in less than half the reported waiting time (60 mins).
Taron uses overhead restraints without the bars sitting comfortably on one’s laps. There were no side bars that would push your body into an awkward position or even limit your view of the ride. That meant that one would have the ultimate feeling of ‘flying’ when riding the coaster.
The coaster starts off by slowly inching its way to the first launch, stopping, and then quickly launching its excited patrons towards the first uphill. The soundtrack and sound effects playing in the background further adds to the thrill. The coaster races through several S-curves, and one may think, oh, this coaster isn’t too bad.
But as soon as you thought the coaster was starting to slow down, you’ll be whisked off on the second launch, accelerating to Taron’s top speed of 117 km/h, directly into a forceful left upward curve, allowing you to feel the impact of the thrilling turns. I couldn’t help but kept screaming and laughing hysterically as I pretty much didn’t know what was going. Yes, it was THAT fast! It didn’t slow down a bit all the way till it reaches its final brakes. By then, my eyes were filled with tears from laughing and screaming and I simply couldn’t believe what I went through. The entire ride was also extremely smooth, thanks to fantastic German engineering.
We went for the ride for another two more times when we were there, and despite heading for the single-rider queue, we were fortunate to be able to switch places with kind-hearted fellow thrill seekers and sat together for one of our rides.
Touted as a family coaster, Raik is by no means a ”family coaster” that we typically imagine, some younger children may actually find it too intense. Perhaps it is less thrilling that its sibling coaster, Taron, Raik still hits max speed of 64km/h. Even with its slower speed, it is the world’s tallest, longest, still fastest ”family boomerang” rollercoaster; which goes both forward and backward.
The ride starts off with the train being pulled up to the top of the hill backward, once it arrives at the top of the building, the brakes are released and the train rushes back down, passing through the station, up a little curve, and then through a ditch right underneath the Taron coaster.
Mystery Castle (Mystery)
Right after Disney Hollywood Studios announced that it will be removing its Tower of Terror, we were wondering when we could again take an indoor drop tower like that. Thankfully, Mystery Castle saved the day and you’ll take a ride that would allow you to ascend and descend the 64 metres high tower, at a speed faster than gravity with up to 4Gs. Like most drop towers, there’s no queue for this attraction and you can literally walk right into the ride.
River Quest (Mystery)
A rapids river ride, River Quest is best left for the sultry summer months as it is possibly the wettest ride ever! The entire ride features drops after drops after drops, it is a fun ride allowing your friends and family to have a good time screaming and laughing.
Black Mamba (Deep in Africa)
Black Mamba is designed by the legendary Bolliger & Mabillard, featuring an inverted roller coaster. As you get onto the ride, the floor below you is lowered and disappears, allowing your legs to dangle as you are launched through loops and helixes. Again, like the Taron coaster, the layout of the park adds to the theming of the ride, creating a sense of suspense as you wouldn’t be able to see the track as it heads behind buildings and underground. The entire ride was extremely smooth, given how chopping and jarring inverted coasters usually are. Those who enjoy the G-force action would definite enjoy the Black Mamba in Phantasialand. This was another coaster that we actually went for seconds!
Colorado Adventure (Mexico)
Colorado Adventure is quite a surprising ride as we don’t really fancy mine train roller coasters. But oh we were so wrong. We actually enjoyed this ride thoroughly. Given the queue time to ride time ratio, this one was worth the wait as it was one hella long (more than 1.25km) mine train coaster!
Chiapas is an attraction that is best enjoyed in the summer months as the log flume does create some splashes that would make you feel even frostier than what you are already feeling. Chiapas is still worth braving the cold as it is the world’s steepest log flume drop, measuring 53 degrees, alongside an airtime hill. Unlike most log flume rides that only goes forwards, Chiapas moves backward too, and it even features a backward drop!
This was the only ride that we didn’t had the chance to take as it was closed for maintenance during the day we visited. I usually head Top Spin rides as sometimes, it makes me feel dizzy after a while and it just isn‘t the best ride to take after a full meal.
I guess the mechanics of the Talocan isn’t anything special, but Phantasialand decided to spruce up the ride by adding Fire and Water elements. It is though, a great sight to see, people up in the air, screaming with their hair all over the place, alongside the majestic water fountain and blazing fire.
Winja’s Fear and Force (Fantasy)
Winja’s is actually two separate spinning roller coasters. The queue for this is quite confusing as you really do not know which ride you are queuing for until you reach your turn. There are hardly any signs until the line breaks into two and are separated by a rope, in which, even if you are in the wrong queue which you intended to, there is now no turning back.
Well, since these are two separate coasters, you would probably still have to get back in line, and being well-seasoned by now, will know that you should head for the opposite line the second time round.
The Fear coaster has more elements of fear as there would be a section of the track that tilts forward and backward, whereas the Force coaster tilts sideways. At the end of the ride, both coasters feature a mini drop that still creates screams of surprise by the riders.
Final Comments and Theme Park Tips
All in all, I would say that Phantasialand is truly Europe’s best themed park. Besides the fewer crowds that really makes the entire experience more enjoyable, there are just too many thrilling rides in Phantasialand that would make you want to go on them again and again.
Like all theme parks, a tip is to always go on the most popular rides just when the park opens, and that would mean heading straight for Fantasy World. Usually, the queues would dip quite a bit during lunch hours as people adjourn for their meals and once more in mid-day (around 3-4pm). That is when we usually get to go for the rides with longer queues in the day (wait times from 90 mins down to 30 mins).
Should you be visiting Dusseldorf, Cologne, or Bonn, this is a theme park that simply shouldn’t be missed!
Where to stay when visiting Phantasialand?
Definitely, for theme park lovers, we always try to slot in a day to reside in the theme park’s resorts. This would help us enjoy mini-perks like extra hours in the park (shorter waiting times) for hotel guests. For this trip, we stayed one night in Hotel Matamba, an African-themed resort) and thoroughly enjoyed the themed resort, alongside its sumptuous breakfast. Read more about our stay here, and book your stay for Hotel Matamba here!
Alternatively, there’s also Hotel Ling Bao, a Chinese-themed resort hotel located right next to the themed park.
Have you been to Phantasialand in Bruhl, Germany? Share with us your experiences in the comments below!