Well, here goes my "reviews" (slash TR...!).
Our arrival at Hotel MATAMBA, the brand new African themed hotel at Phantasialand was met with much anticipation, at around 9.30pm on Saturday evening. We managed to park our car at the Digger Camp which meant we avoided the parking charge (yes, cars still have to pay even if they're staying in the hotels!).
We checked in to the room and settled in. The room was fantastic, I can honestly say it had the best view of any hotel I have ever stayed in - with Deep In Africa and the Black Mamba drop/loop in full view from the windows, and Talocan in the background. The room was similar in design to the Holiday Inn Chessington, with a smaller double bed for children and a larger doubled bed in the main area. Massive shower, and all tastefully decorated.
The hotel facilities are very limited. There is no pool in MATAMBA and the garden area outside is much smaller than the equivalent in Ling Bao. The bar, whilst nicely themed, has no atmosphere and is a little too regimented. It also closes fairly early (around 12.30am). The entrance area is really nice, although the main entrance is very underwhelming, with plain wooden doors. There is a tiny shop and the restaurant is located at the back, some walk from the entrance area.
Overall, I must confess to being somewhat dissapointed. I had hoped that with a second hotel, Phantasialand would begin to feel more of a resort. However, due to the lack of facilities that have been introduced, and the lack of a connected walkway or simple subway between the two hotels, it still lacks a lot that is required. The hotel lacks atmosphere, and, whilst this isn't a complete criticism, parts of it feel like a prison! It's very well themed yes, but sadly doesn't really get the juices flowing. Ling Bao remains my favourite hotel, mainly as I love the garden area and the bar, whilst dull compared to others, is better than MATAMBA.
As for the park, it mixes great theming with rides of all types. However, again, whilst Phantasialand remains one of my top 5 parks, the lack of attractions was evident from this visit. Whilst queues were generally under 20 minutes, two days is too much for this park if it isn't very busy. In reality, the only rides that we wanted to "re-ride" several times were Winjas, Talocan, Black Mamba, Mystery Castle and Colorado Adventure. The rest of the rides are either very average or downright dull (the dark rides are too long winded and lack any real effect/emotion). If the park is to move forward, they must ensure they get rid of the trash like Geister Rickshaw, Silbermine, Temple of the Night Hawk etc. and replace it with rides on the level of their world-class attractions such as Talocan. On the second day, we were frankly bored of the park and, even though we continued re-riding, the lack of attractions at the park was just so apparant.
I don't want to end on a low note though, as Phantasialand does offer some things that no other park does. Talocan is a fantastic ride (although the mist wasn't working) and Colorado Adventure in the dark is simply sensational, with long dark sections that you haven't a clue where you are going. Black Mamba on the front is better than Nemesis due to the awesome visuals, although I would say that on any other row, Nemesis is better as I personally find it more intense. Black Mamba is improving, however.
We only had a few hours at this Metroland meets Flamingoland style park. It's not cheap, as Mark said, but it does have a couple of good attractions. The Mack log flume is unique with a reverser turntable, and Troy is a standout woodie. It's the best wooden coaster I have been on, and has gatecrashed my top 10 coasters. It is relentless in speed and offers airtime in abundance. However, now that I have finally ridden a modern, smooth wooden coaster, I can safely say that I do, overall, prefer steel coasters as the Wooden rollercoaster just lacks the intensity. However, if I was informed Alton Towers were getting a GCI Woodie, I would only be too pleased as it's a fantastic coaster!!
Other than that, Toverland isn't worth much mention - some cool aerial assault courses but the Booster Bike is slow and dull! Go to Flamingoland for one of these!
A park to watch however...
Overall a great break away before Christmas with great people, some fantastic rides and some nice Cocktails haaha!
The "quotes" I think Mark has covered, eh Mrs. T Bumwell?