Salvaging Summer (European Tour) - Park thoughts

Discussion in 'Your Trip Reports and Plans' started by AstroDan, 17th Aug 2021.

  1. Matt N

    Matt N TowersStreet Member

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    I’m really enjoying these reports; thanks for writing them @AstroDan and @John! Hope you’re having a pleasant trip so far!

    I do have a question regarding Rulantica, however; am I misconstruing what Vildstrom is like, or is it very similar to the Wild Water Rapids attractions at Center Parcs holiday parks in the UK, if you’ve ever been to one of them?
     
  2. JAperson

    JAperson TowersStreet Member

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    Another great report @AstroDan.
    Rulantica really does look like one of the best water parks out there.
    The outside area looks great especially with the lighting makes it look almost magical. Did the outside area stay open until 10pm, surely it would be a bit chilly out there at that time?
     
  3. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Yes, Svalgurok was open till 10pm. I would imagine that by October, it will close earlier and, in winter (outside of the theme park's main season), it will close entirely.

    It was chilly by 10pm. We went out for a laugh at 9.30pm and did Slalom Rok. We basically had the entire thing to ourselves!

    And @Matt N - yes, very similar. There are two routes.
     
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  4. JAperson

    JAperson TowersStreet Member

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    To be fair, thinking about it, that is exactly what I would do. Get the whole place to yourself.
     
  5. John

    John TowersStreet Member

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    According to the website the new outdoor section is only open May-Sept, which is slightly less than I’d anticipated. No doubt if they have a hot easter (for example) people would expect it to be open, though maybe on reduced hours.

    Rulantica

    Covid measures – face masks to be worn in the lobby area. Social distancing markers are in place on the floor in queue areas and each pool has a limited capacity – this results in queues for the wave pool and can result in Skog Lagune hitting capacity but overall the covid measures have a negligible impact on the day.

    ---

    Like Europa Park, time just disappears at Rulantica. I’ve now visited 3 times and, on each occasion, stayed until close without feeling I’ve run out of things to do. By the time we came to book our trip, the regular tickets had sold out however Hygeddal was still available. Fortunately the extra €10 was well worth it for us, particularly as with the weather being much colder than last year we didn’t want to sit outside which meant we made a lot of use of the quiet relaxation area. The food options were also superior to the offerings at the two main F&B outlets in the main hall. I didn't opt for the sauna but still found myself presented with copious amounts of nudity on account of the surprisingly NSFW artwork throughout.

    The new outdoor slides on Svalgurok are an excellent addition. There are 9 in total, though 4 are only really intended for children. The others however are well worth doing, it helps that most of them had no wait at all most of the day, though I suspect they may have been much more popular if the weather had been a bit warmer. Stormrok is the main slide and seemed to be having a few issues with the traffic lights when we were there – the lifeguard on duty had to keep checking to see when the slide was clear and that coupled with the inherently low capacity made for a slow-moving queue. The slide is incredibly fast on entry to the bowl section but unlike most bowl slides you just come to a stop in the centre and have to push yourself into the exit slide. Quite an odd design but well worth the wait if just for the burst of speed on entry to the bowl. Spiralrok, Slalomrok and Vågorrok were the best of the rest as Dan mentioned. One slight criticism I have of the area is that the steel structure already seemed to be going slimy in places due to being constantly wet – it could do with an enhanced cleaning regime. In addition to the slides, there are a range of water jets that can be controlled similar to Paradise Plummers but we didn’t spend long on the structure as it was pretty cold up there!

    Back inside, Snorri snorkelling VR is another new (upcharge) addition in a small extension near the Isbrekker slides. Some of our group had a go and the reviews were fairly positive, I skipped it as I’m not really a fan of VR attractions. It seems a slightly odd addition to the place, another example of Mack doing something just because they can.

    One thing that’s quickly become apparent at Rulantica is that the queue time for an attraction is entirely unrelated to how good it is – the longest waits are usually for the too-slow lazy river and the entirely mediocre Svalgur Rytt, meanwhile there are plenty of other more fun slides with minimal waits. A shame that if you want to complete the set of slides during a visit you spend most of your time queuing on the unthemed steps to Vinter & Svalgur Rytt – which as Vik mentioned in his TR are in need of a some repair work to the tiles. Those slides weren’t our priority so we spent most of our time in the two pool bars and the Hygeddal relaxation area, doing most of the slides only once or twice over the course of the day. We didn’t go into the main wave pool at all, on account of its tamed waves and reduced capacity which meant it had a queue for most of the day.

    Rulantica is at its best by night, with an excellent lighting package in the main hall and on Svalgurrok outside. Whilst it gets slightly quieter towards the end there can still be long waits for both Svalgur and Vinter Rytt, so there’s little to be gained by leaving them until last. Instead, the last hour or so is better spent relaxing in the park and taking in the ambience or just doing some of the less popular attractions which usually have no wait at all by then. Those amongst our group who braved the outdoor slides after 9pm had pretty much exclusive use of them, though as I didn’t fancy risking hypothermia I opted for anther go round Vildstrom instead.

    I still consider a visit to Rulantica a must-do during any EP visit and with more investment on the horizon it looks set to remain so for at least the medium term, though looking further ahead I think it’ll need a proper headline attraction to keep me visiting as frequently as I visit EP itself.

    Next stop - Phantasialand
     
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  6. Burbs

    Burbs TowersStreet Team Team Member

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    This is disappointing to hear. I'd have thought it'd be open through to the end of the main summer season. Completely understandable in winter however.
     
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  7. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    It is disappointing, but then it will be very cold.
     
  8. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    I totally forgot to mention Snorri Snorkling VR in my trip report.

    Yes, I went for it. I just had to see what it was like. We paid the modest €6 fee (well, it's on your Rula-Band), waited about 10 minutes and off we went. Overall, whilst the concept is solid, the entire thing is hopelesly flawed. Although I managed pretty well, the friend I was with did not. Keeping water from leaking round the goggles is tricky, and then breathing is also tricky using the snorkel. The audio was not easily audible, and because you're in a shallow pool the feeling of true immersion is lost because your feet keep hitting the floor of the pool. There are some quirky effects, such as the bubbles in the pool used and so on. The film lasts several minutes and is essentially a quest with Snorri.

    Overall, kind of cool but... flawed.
     
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  9. JAperson

    JAperson TowersStreet Member

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    To me it really doesn't sound very appealing. It really seems that even the great Europa Park can't get VR attractions quite right. Maybe there's a reason for that? VR and water together just sounds stupid to me but maybe I'm being too pessimistic.
     
  10. Plastic Person

    Plastic Person TowersStreet Member

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    CTRL + V this caption as a review for everything EP have done that involves blasted VR.
     
  11. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Not necessarily. I think Valerian works pretty well and I have paid to do that twice! Alpenexpress is just basic VR and works in that regard (even if I would rather it went to lift the capacity up by 200/hour). I haven't tried Yullbe so not really sure.
     
  12. Rob

    Rob TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Indeed, Valerian is almost the perfect implementation of VR on a coaster.
     
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    Posted 1st Sep 2021
    #32
  13. JAperson

    JAperson TowersStreet Member

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    Yes but how good is the perfect implementation. As much as I know very little about Europa park wouldn't the ride just be better without it?
     
    Posted 1st Sep 2021
    #33
  14. Rob

    Rob TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Without watning to detract from the intentions of this thread, Valerian is seperate to Eurosat CanCan Coaster and does not have any real noticeable impact on the operations or experience of the main attraction. It has its own station/load area.
     
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    Posted 1st Sep 2021
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  15. Matt.GC

    Matt.GC TowersStreet Member

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    Rulantica is magical at night. Completely stunning lighting package. The whole plaza outside is excellently lit as well.

    I agree, the queues for some of the slides are completely out of keeping with the rest of place. Loads of black walls and floors if you look over the sides of the stair cases.
     
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    Posted 1st Sep 2021
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  16. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Phantasialand

    Our trip continued beyond Rust with DB trains whisking us between Ringsheim and Cologne in around 4 hours, with one change in Offenburg. Just for the record - the DB Navigator is a fantastic app for booking tickets in Germany and if you're checking out the two best theme parks in Europe, then travel between them is easy.

    We weren't staying on site at Phantasialand this time - we're saving that for this winter all being well.

    Of course, like Europa-Park, we're well versed in this small but mighty theme park having first visited in 2007, just after the park's recent renaissance truly began with Black Mamba in 2006. Pretty much all of the park's additions since then have been absolute belters, although it's fair to say that these days we have to wait several years between projects at the park.

    It really was a tale of two halves this time at Phantasialand. Day 1 was pretty damn awful in all honesty. If you've been to the park before, you'll know that space is at a premium - with rides crammed in every corner and the only real space being the Berlin square (yes, Wakobato too, but come on - that area is basically redundant due to the noise issues). The shuttle bus to the park was absolutely heaving and, when we arrived, we quickly realised that this was going to be one of those extremely busy days at the park. Partly our fault for not aiming to arrive at the crack of dawn to avoid those early crowds, but it really was a chore just getting in to the park - not helped by the fact they had to check vaccination certificates and ID in addition to regular tickets and, in theory, security (which was non existant).

    Either way, we made our way in and what can I say? The park was horribly full. Rides were down for technical reasons left, right and centre. Indeed, at one stage Taron, Fly and Mystery Castle were all closed for long periods - with other rides joining in from time to time, including Chiapas. All of this, together with the heavy crowds, made for a pretty poor experience at one of my absolute favourite theme parks. There felt, rather like last August when we also visited, no reduction in guest figures and, judging by the minimal social distancing in queues and the fact that said queues were all spilling well out of entrances made me believe that Phantasialand weren't reducing sales whatsoever. Indeed, such lengths were the queues that entire pathways were closed off to accommodate more queue line space. This made the pathways you could enter even worse.

    I often say that Phantasialand is a 1 1/2 day park, achieveable still in 1 day, but with this kind of crowding it was anything but. Of course - rides were great as per usual and not all had long waits particularly, but it was just a fairly unpleasant experience given the stricter Covid measures in that area. At the end of the day, I made my way to express my displeasure to Guest Services. The man was sympathetic and upon learning we were from the UK offered us some Fly fastrack for the next day along with free ice creams all round. He also warned us that the next day would also be heaving. But...

    Day 2 on the other hand? A totally different ball game. Ride availability was far better, we arrived a little earlier and crowds were definitely lighter. Still busy, of course, but totally manageable. Lunch at Rutmor's Tavern was an absolute pleasure (my favourite theme park restaurant in Europe) - the food is just superb, reasonably priced and with litres of beers in a very cosy atmosphere... man I could stay there all day! Taron was as ever running well, although I still think it's a bit overrated given the layout's flaws and the thing just is NOT operated well enough EVER (still, a beautiful thing), Mamba was solid (although I wish the Nemesis team could sort out their operations), Colorado is just AWESOME (damn I could sit on that all day long), Chiapas was good (although damn those restraints are pesky)... what can I say? Phantasialand is a great park when it all comes together.

    There is, however, one thing I have barely mentioned. And its really for that reason that I type this report.

    Rookburgh [please play the below music clip as you start reading the next section]



    It's all gone quite silent on the Fly front since it soft opened last year. The pandemic has really hushed the hype around the ride but, even so, we went in with high expectations of an excellent attraction - another Phantasialand smash hit. Did it hit the mark?

    You bet.

    This ride is one of the finest in the world, there can be no denying it. The theming is absolutely on point, as we have come to expect from this park, and the ride is wonderful. The layout itself is not much more intense or rigorous than a ride like Galactica - but my goodness this ride takes Galactica and the Superman clones and eats them up. The queue line winds its way around Rookburgh before, eventually, you reach the lockers. All incredible in setting up one hell of an atmosphere. You pass through the highly themed security area and into one of two batching areas into the station. The station is stunning - dark and atmospheric. The trains hurtle into the station empty (there's an offload). You take your seat in the trains. The restraints are slightly less flexible than the B&M harnesses, so not quite as comfy. But then... you're off. The music. The lights. I had no idea what would lie in wait between the dispatch and the launch. It's nothing technologically impressive here from a dark ride perspective but it doesn't half get the tension going. Huge cathedral sized chambers with videos and instruments as you rise upwards, still sitting comfortably face out. Then it happens. Effortlessly, like some kind of ethereal magic, the motor silently turns you, as the train moves forward and the track bends, into the position of flight. Then you launch as the music ebbs away. You launch into a wonderfully long, flowing layout. Wonderful sights, effects, fountains... through into a second launch which pushes you, swooping into airtime moments (at the front) and twists and turns. Just immaculate in every sense of the world. You continue through some inversions, passing the Uhrwerk restaurant* and then down into the brake run - which is lit by runway style lights as you enter the brake tunnel. At this moment, once more, you effortlessly twist back into the seated position before cornering into offload. You disembark.

    After collecting your baggage, the only thing for it is to drop by the little bar adjacent to the ride and celebrate how wonderful this experience is with a bottled American beer. Rarely has a Miller Light been toasted to such heights.

    Vekoma have smashed this thing out of the park. Phantasialand have done what only they can.

    Fly might not be my number one coaster, it might not even be top 10 (for reference, I have done 700 coasters, so don't think I am being too harsh here) and it's definitely not the most intense flying coaster I have done (that still goes to Flying Dinosaur with Tatsu in second) - but this is one of the most stunningly beautiful, goosebump-causing rides you are ever likely to check out. I rode Fly 4 times over the two days and each time loved it as much as the last.

    It's definitely my favourite ride in the park now and possibly my favourite ride in Germany, without being my highest ranked coaster. Hard to explain but there it is.

    Effortless.

    Beautiful.

    Get to Phantasialand now and check it out. I will be getting back as soon as possible, preferably this winter, to ride at night...!

    *I didn't want to spoil the mood, but Uhrwerk is overpriced. Compared to Rutmor's, the food is more basic and more expensive. €23 for a burger? No, sir!
     
    Last edited: 1st Sep 2021
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    Posted 1st Sep 2021
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  17. JAperson

    JAperson TowersStreet Member

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    Another superb report as expected @AstroDan . Phantasialand is by far my most anticipated park. This report only build my anticipation more as I wait for the day I get to go. As for F.L,Y I did wonder why it had gone so quiet. I presume it's from the lack of foreign travel and with your report it has confirmed by suspicions it would be another smash hit ride for the park. I do wonder how a small family owned park have manages to be known around the world for the best themed roller coasters, especially as a lot of these additon don't come cheap.
     
    Posted 1st Sep 2021
    #37
  18. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    The park's issues around noise has somewhat forced them into building these towering areas. They cannot build open areas. Of course, a criticism of the park from my end would be that areas are starting to feel claustrophobic at points, but the details they put in are wonderful.

    Notice I ignored many rides entirely. Wuze Town does nothing for me these days and the less said about Crazy Bats the better...

    And just incase, Europa-Park is still a better overall "product" than Phantasialand, much more that resort destination with better operations and far more to do - but Phantasialand, as ever, showing the world how it's done when it comes to sheer theatrics of their rides/areas. It's amazing that both places are just a few hours apart by road or rail.
     
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    Posted 1st Sep 2021
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  19. Ian

    Ian TS Site Team Team Member

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    Better than Wuze Ball?! Well now I’m even more hyped than I was before. The sooner I can get back and onto FLY the better. It still pains me that my favourite park have built one of my favourite coaster types and I still haven’t managed to get on it yet :confounded:
     
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    Posted 1st Sep 2021
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  20. Rob

    Rob TS Forum Team Team Member

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    My absolute favourite part of your Fly review! :laughing:
     
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    Posted 2nd Sep 2021
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