Having fallen asleep on the sofa at about 9:30 last night, I've somewhat recovered from my Phantasialand trip. So here are some final thoughts and a few pointers.
The level of theming throughout the park was remarkable. Klugheim is vast, yet there are so many small details everywhere. Buckets and items left in tucked away areas, village signs and many small sealed doorways, all give the feeling of it being a real living village. But even at the smaller ride end, this little ride had fantastic cars with spinning fans behind them.
One thing I did notice was that none of the music really stuck in my head. Congo River Rapids, Splash Mountain and Wicker Man are all rides where the music was burned into my mind after one ride. I had to listen to both the Taron and Chiapas sound tracks again to remind myself and still they've not really stuck. Other rides like the ghost train and Hollywood Tour lacked any real audio to note.
Food was very good throughout the park and hotel. The buffet breakfast was fairly normal on the continental side, with croissants, pain au chocolat and fruits. The cooked side had various eggs and omlettes to order, with the Hotel Matamba offering some items that I suspect are unique to its buffet, with mini boerewors and a strange toasted flat bread wrap with a tangy cheese filling, which I forget which African nation they said it was from.
For dinner I ate at both hotel's buffets. Theming wise, the Matamba's buffet was far better, with the Ling Bao's buffet interior being far more normal restaurant like. However, I far preferred the food from the Ling Bao buffet, with options from Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and China. Both had cook to order items, with the Matamba buffet offering various grilled meats including crocodile, and the Ling Bao's buffet offering stir frys plus a dessert maker.
I would recommend booking dinner at the hotels though via email before you travel. The restaurants aren't that large and even during off-peak periods they do fill up with corporate events, meetings and conferences.
In the park there were various stands offering normal theme park burgers and pizza, along with restaurant options at the Ling Bao, Klugheim and a sandwich shop in Berlin. There were also many fruits and marshmallows covered in chocolate, however I did notice many wasps in them every time I went past. But it was the waffle shop that caught my eye when I first entered the park, and it did not disappoint!
It was too cold for me to have ice cream, but there was always a long queue to get at its window! Fairly sure the other window that was open had more options.
An added bonus of staying in the hotel outside of
the peak summer season, was an hour's ERT on Taron and Raik every evening. This was eerily similar to a TTSP event ERT, with everyone immediately following the etiquette of you can stay on if there's no one waiting, otherwise it's a (literal) run out the exit, up the stairs, past the restaurants and bemused non-riding onlookers, back over the bridge and into the single rider queue line again to try and get the next train. The event was empty enough on my third evening that our train did 6 runs without anyone leaving their seat. The staff were brilliant; cheering, clapping and laughing as they sent us off for another go around! Managed 10 or more goes on both my second and third evening, with a total number of Taron rides during my stay approaching 30. I ache a little!
I think I've covered most of the rides previously, but there is one I missed: Mystery Castle. A "bungee" drop tower. I'd only ever done the little things in the Dungeons before, so I was interested to give it a go, although a little nervous it has to be said. The building is impressively tall and can be seen from most points in the park. However, I'd seen videos of the ride and it didn't look like it went that high, certainly not as high as the building, which must all be for show. With a brief glance at the information board, where it announced it travels 65m, my imperial distance based mind went, see not that high. I reached the back of the queue and it turned out there were just enough seats for everyone except me to get onto the next ride. So I stood outside and listened to the loud electricity noises, the whooshing and then the doors shaking. Umm... If only I had remembered that Thorpe had put in its mid-term plan intentions for building 40m and 50m tall coasters, then the 200ft launch within seconds of the final restraint having been checked would have been far less of a surprise! I think I enjoyed it, but somehow I didn't feel the need to go back on.
Overall a great park, which attracted people of all ages because of its mix of rides, ambience and shows. This really is what Alton should be and I hope that they continue to up their theming game otherwise they are going to get left completely behind by what these non-Disney European theme parks are now doing.
I'm looking forward to going back when Rookburgh opens. Even though I'm not a great fan of flying coasters, I'm sure it will be another fantastically themed land.