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Amusement park: “The roller coaster ‘FLY’ in Phantasialand is unique in the world”

MThere are more than 1,600 amusement and theme parks in Germany, which attracted 38 million visitors last year. Six million people flocked to Europa-Park alone – with 105 attractions it has by far the most rides. Among the internet bloggers who regularly report on the latest attractions, Stefan Andter has the most followers; his second amusement park guide will be published in book form shortly.

WORLD: As a theme park insider, you probably have a head for heights. Nevertheless, the question: when was the last time you really sweated with fear?

Stefan Andter: That was with the “Highlander” in Hansa-Park on the Baltic Sea, which is a particularly high free-fall tower, where you can go to a height of over 100 meters in a rotating gondola and at the top point the seats even tilt forward before you can then 120 kilometers per hour falling speed rushes down.

WORLD: Are there any attractions that you avoid like the devil avoids holy water?

Andter: Yes, the classic swing boats, I loved them when I was young, but now I’m sick of them.

WORLD: Faster, higher, further – superlatives seem to be the fuel of the entertainment industry…

Andter: You forgot in your enumeration louder and funnier. Because amusement parks not only invest in new attractions, but also in elaborate shows and colorful parades with park mascots and dancers.

WORLD: But now you’re not telling anything new.

Andter: That’s true, but the shows are actually becoming more and more complex, there is live singing, acrobatic performances and adventure dinners. Some performances, such as the theater show “Caro” in the Efteling amusement park or “Together: a Pixar Musical Adventure” in Disneyland Paris can compete with big-city variety shows.

But since you asked for something new, some amusement parks are starting to tell full stories to their visitors, meaning the guests are immersed in a story and become a part of it.

WORLD: Where for example?

Andter: The Disney parks have been doing this for a long time, for example with the superhero world “Marvel Avengers Campus”. Even the “PYM Kitchen” restaurant is involved there; like in the film “Ant-Man and the Wasp”, the dishes are served very small or unusually large, which means that you can order gigantic burgers as well as tiny hot dogs.

WORLD: Do you also have an example from Germany?

Andter: In Phantasialand you can become a part of the “Explorers’ Society” in the “Charles Lindbergh” hotel, an exclusive society that consists exclusively of hotel guests, i.e. aeronauts. And there are attractions, surprises and special restaurants just for them.

WORLD: Which German attractions are currently the best in the world?

Andter: The roller coaster “FLY” in Phantasialand is unique in the world, on which visitors fly in a lying position like a pilot and at up to 80 kilometers per hour over an impressive industrial world.

The roller coaster “Der Schur des Kärnan” in the Hansa Park also belongs in the world class category, where you not only drive forward in the roller coaster car, but also fall backwards from a height of 60 meters in a dark tower; then of course the 73 meter high steel roller coaster “Silver Star” in Europa-Park and the wooden roller coaster “Colossos” in Heide Park Soltau, which can reach speeds of up to 110 kilometers per hour. A world first for smaller guests is “Maximus – the Flight of the Guardian” in the Legoland Germany Resort.

WORLD: What makes this train so special?

Andter: On this wing roller coaster, called the Wing Coaster, the kids sit to the left and right of the track. Even six-year-olds or even younger ones with a height of 120 centimeters can ride, which is not easy, because the “Maximus” has fast spirals and is a fast-paced pleasure for little ones at 54 kilometers per hour. Everyone really wants to go there, so parents should check the minimum height of their children before visiting “Maximus”. I have often seen howling children who were turned away by the staff for safety reasons.

WORLD: According to surveys, a fifth of Germans want to forego summer vacation this year. This is actually good news for German amusement parks, because the kids have to be entertained somewhere – what tips do you have for price-conscious visitors?

Andter: In general, the admission prices are lowest during the week, and you should never buy tickets on site, but always online via the amusement park’s ticket shop. The fact that it is possible to take your own food and drinks with you in all German amusement parks is of course also easy on the wallet.

WORLD: And how do you avoid long queues in front of the rides?

Andter: By best avoiding them. Every amusement park these days has a free app that shows wait times. In some parks it is also possible to book a time slot via app and then enter the attraction via a separate entrance without waiting. A good example of this is the VirtualLine app in Europa-Park.

In general, the queues are shortest during lunchtime, because that’s when a lot of visitors flock to the restaurants. And if you really don’t feel like queuing, you can still spontaneously use the paid Fast Lane Passes, with which you can get to selected attractions directly and without a long wait.

WORLD: Even with the best VIP pass, it might be difficult to cover all the attractions in one day, so which park would you recommend staying at?

Andter: Definitely in Europa-Park, in Disneyland Paris and in the Dutch amusement park Efteling, i.e. in the largest European parks. Within Germany, overnight stays in Legoland Germany, in Heide Park and in the Tripsdrill adventure park are recommended, because the theme hotels there are also directly adjacent to the area. Advantage: Hotel guests can access the amusement parks via separate entrances, where they have exclusive access to the attractions even before the park gates open.

WORLD: Which themed hotel do you personally prefer?

Andter: I have two favorites and both are in Europa-Park, which is not surprising considering the total of six high-class themed hotels in Rust. I especially like the New England-style Hotel Bell Rock, especially the suites in the majestic lighthouse, and the Nordic Hotel Krønasår, which has direct access to the Rulantica water world.

WORLD: You keep mentioning Europa-Park in Rust.

Andter: I didn’t even notice that, but Europa-Park is the largest and most innovative park in this country. Even in the gastronomic field, Rust is setting new standards.

WORLD: Do you mean the gourmet restaurant “Ammolite”, which has been awarded two Michelin stars?

Andter: That too, but above all the “Eatrenalin”, which opened a few months ago. Because it combines a ride and a restaurant. Sounds strange, but you have to imagine it like this: A maximum of 16 guests, sitting on self-propelled chairs, drive to six different rooms one after the other, in which they are served dishes that match the respective staging. You embark on a sensory journey around the world. A brilliant idea, I even think the exorbitant price of up to 445 euros per person is reasonable.

WORLD: According to the motto once and never again?

Andter: This is exactly what Europa-Park wants to avoid, which is why the productions and the eight-course menu created for them change every three months.

WORLD: Pretty savvy. Can the other German parks keep up?

Andter: Certainly not in a direct comparison, but each park has its own special features or is specialized in target groups, such as the Legoland Deutschland Resort in Günzburg, which appeals to families with small children up to the age of twelve. Or the Heide Park in Soltau, which invites preschool children to balloon rides, water tours and a dinosaur riding track with the Peppa Pig Land.

Other parks, like Phantasialand and Erlebnispark Schloss Thurn, have combined their roller coasters with virtual reality experiences. That means you drive through the course with VR glasses. Here I have to mention Europa-Park again, because that’s where the VR attraction “Yullbe” started in 2020, where visitors not only wear VR glasses, but also cuffs on their hands and feet, so that they can see themselves in the virtual world can move space.

WORLD: It sounds as if the good old children’s playground will soon have had its day.

Andter: I wouldn’t go that far, because Karl’s adventure villages have been a huge success with exactly this concept of good old children’s playgrounds and fussy attractions; There are already six villages and four more – in the Ruhr area, in Central Saxony, Lower Saxony and Franconia – are being planned. Some politician once spoke of the collective amusement park in Germany, I think we are not far from this vision. (Editor’s note: The quote comes from the late Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl.)

To person: Stefan Andter calls himself amusement park traveler. On all social media channels (Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Tiktok, Linkedin, Pinterest) and on his amusement park blog, the 31-year-old posts information and impressions from amusement parks within and beyond the German borders. As an ambassador for the Association of German Leisure Parks and Leisure Companies, he also has the opportunity to look behind the scenes at individual parks. In 2022 his first guide to the top 30 amusement parks in Europe was published.

His new book “Freizeitpark Guide 2023 – The 30 best adventure parks in Germany” will be published in July, it has 240 pages, costs 16.90 euros and can be pre-ordered at .

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