Phantasialand has once again built something new and of all things it was completed during the Covid 19 pandemic. Whereas elsewhere the opening of the new attraction, the new themed area and the new hotel would have been postponed until next year, the park in Brühl has once again taken the initiative to completely turn the theme park world upside down.
After the closure of the huge IMAX Simulator Race for Atlantis at the end of the winter season 2015/16, rumours about the future use of the area started. At the same time, the new themed area Klugheim was in its final preparations. Shortly thereafter, Taron became Europe’s most signature ride and Klugheim one of the most immersive areas in a European theme park.
A teaser of the new themed area appeared to the start of the 2017 season and in June of the same year, the roller coaster F.L.Y. was announced to the public. The first track was installed soon after. Yet, due to the location at the edge of the park and between the areas Berlin and Fantasy, there was not much to look at. Indeed, no visitor would know what Rookburgh and its flying machine would look like until the opening of the area.
With time, the anticipation grew immensely and all the sudden – and in a time when nobody would have thought about it – Rookburgh opened its gates for a preopening. Due to Covid-19, the number of visitors to the area was restricted and only the front entrance to the area was opened, which led to a long queue right from the start expanding over a large part of the Kaiserplatz and into the Fantasy area.
I joined the queue around noon and enjoyed the time in the open-air queue on the Kaiserplatz for quite a while. Once Rookburgh was in sight – all the sudden – a queue jumper thought it was a good idea to be a group member of mine. Apparently, he was an employee of the park on a day off and was just interested in the area. As I do not accept queue jumping, I informed the staff about his behaviour and he was denied entrance to the area for the day of visit. He called me – rather thankful, I guess – an asshole.
From the moment, he forced himself into my life, I was angry. But all the anger was forgotten once I stepped into the immersive world of Rookburgh. This steam punk paradise is just incredible. The way the roller coaster F.L.Y. is passing through the area and the nearby Hotel Charles Lindbergh is awesome. There is so much going on, yet everything is reduced to the new sensation of flying and clear in its visuals.
Apart of the main attraction, Rookburgh offers some delicious treats. In Emilie‘s Chocoladen & Candy‑Werkstatt you can buy high quality chocolate and candies, whereas Zum Kohleschipper offers a range of delicious sandwiches and the restaurant Uhrwerk fully concentrates itself on exclusive hamburgers, craft beer and Gin. This all comes for a price and covers a segment, which was not yet been covered by the park. Phantasialand therefore offers a large range of fantastic food options for a very reasonable price.
The signature attraction of Rookburgh is the Vekoma flying coaster F.L.Y. Albeit Vekoma was the pioneer of this kind of coaster, their Flying Dutchman model can only be found in a handful of parks. The complicated loading mechanism and the lowered capacity in regard to the competitor’s product never led to another installation since 2001. In 2009 a first iteration of the train’s mechanic got presented with the short-lived Stingray coaster at the Giant Wheel Park of Suzhou. For F.L.Y. the Flying Dutchman design received a completely new development. Now the trains are featuring the vest design to be found at other modern coasters of the company and the shin clamps are fixed to the train and not to the restraints and can be entered while sliding into them. But the most important novelty is that you are entering the train whilst the track is in a 90° rotated position – a swivel turned the car to a horizontal position. The station is therefore highly unusual, as it needs to be rather long.
Once the train is boarded, the ride can begin. In a dark ride section, we climb a ramp while still sitting in an upright position. In a curve, we then change into the flying position in probably the most elegant way so far. Shortly thereafter, we are accelerated in the first launch section of the ride and into a wide and upwards leading curve. Along and above facades of Rookburgh, we now twist ourselves around in a corkscrew. After a left-hand bend, we cross the first launch section in an airtime hill. Accompanied with a lot of pressure, we fly through the back section of Rookburgh before gaining a bit of height in a curve to the left. We then make our way through the centre of the area before we descent in a very wide left-hand curve. A tight bend to the right then leads us towards the area front right corner of the area, where we descend to the ground level in a tight helix. Here we hit the second launch track and accelerate once more towards the Hotel Charles Lindbergh.
As the launch track is leading upwards, we soon have a view onto the upper levels of the hotel. A steep curve then takes us down. With a lot of momentum, we now fly over the restaurant Uhrwerk, before we make our way through the centre of the area once more. In a left-hand bend we then surprise the visitors of the Chocoladen & Candy-Werkstatt, while continuing our journey towards the front right section of the area. Here, we descent in a left-hand helix, before we plunge down towards the ground. In an intensive left-hand bend, we now head towards the second inversion of the ride, whereupon we continue in a wide curve close to the ground. A short swivel to the right later, we then hit the brakes. Like the start of the ride, we are then turned back to the horizontal seating position while passing through a short turn. We are now waiting for debarkation in a very comfy position. Shortly after, we reach the exit station.
Rookburgh is without a doubt one of the most immersive areas in any theme park and F.L.Y. is its masterpiece of a roller coaster. It became my favourite flying coaster somewhere in the middle of the ride, as I could not stop laughing. As most of the flying coasters out there, F.L.Y. is a very intense experience, yet a very enjoyable one. The trains are a lot comfier than the standard ones to be found on a B&M coaster of the same type and guarantee a very safe journey through the air. The high capacity, the long ride time, the technology of the ride and its location certainly enhance the overall experience on F.L.Y.: a ride which got with ease the next big signature ride of Europe.
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