Attraction Review: F.L.Y.

I would apologise for the fact that all of my recent posts have been attraction reviews, but seeing as this one has been six bloody years in the making, I shan't. A few weeks ago I finally got my act together and headed to what is probably my most-visited of European airports, Cologne Bonn, to visit Phantasialand. Yep, the time had finally come for me to F.L.Y!

So of course, pandemic or no, we all know Phantasialand take their sweet time when developing new attractions, and Rookburgh and F.L.Y. were no exception. Having started really coming to fruition in 2016 almost immediately after the launch of Taron and Klugheim, Phantasialand seem to have taken great delight in releasing excruiatingly minimal detail about their newest venture, leading to a cult of theme park enthusiast sleuths to slowly piece together the great mystery painstaking Google Earth screenshot after Google Earth screenshot. We had weeks upon weeks of deciding if certain walls looked themed enough, whether certain parts would be visible from other areas of the park, what the thing would ride like, what the dark ride section would be, and so on. And even once the land and ride opened, Phantasialand are so stringent on their no-filming policy that the land still remained somewhat shrouded in mystery because, as a fact I can now personally attest to, no filming or photography of Rookburgh and F.L.Y. can truly do it justice. And now, it was my turn. 

This review will mostly focus on the coaster itself, but I will give a brief overview of my thoughts on the land which it turns out is actually quite difficult to put into words. The entrance to the land gave me bg Disneyland Paris vibes, but where DLP has an elegant pastel-coloured motif, Rookburgh is all exposed brick and black steel. It's got a real edge to it - the land is steampunk themed but it doesn't lean in too hard to the sci-fi, instead choosing to focus more on the punk-Victorian style instead. It's the closest thing to Tokyo DisneySea's 20th Century American Waterfront we have here in Europe and trust me when I say you'd not think Rookburgh out of place if it were there. It's really that good.

Something I always look for in a themed land is does it feel 'alive'? Lived in? Like I've literally been transported to another world and am a trespasser in an alien world that is home to others. And the answer to that with Rookburgh is absolutely. Everywhere you look is a feast for the eyes - not in a fantasy/beautiful kind of way like I feel in say, Fantasyland at Disneyland Paris, but just in the details. The piles of coal, the vehicles, the various pipes and wires and equipment strewn around. There's an overture of kinetic energy wherever you look, whether that be from the constant buzz of the coaster trains overhead, the steam emerging from the grates or guests constantly craning necks and pointing with joy. 

And the SIGNAGE. Oh god the signage. We know I'm a huge branding nerd and I think themed signage is a wonderful world-building tool. We can learn so much about the land we're in from the typography, the phrasing, the illustration used in the land's signage and Rookburgh's is oozing with backstory. I'd love some kind of art-print book just filled with the wonderful signage of this land, each its own intricate stand-alone work of art. 

And as with all of Phantasialand's lands, Rookburgh is no less immersive than the last. Walls tower up around you, enclosing you into the space so that the real world doesn't exist - only this fantasy the parkhas created for you. In this aspect I found it quite similar to Universal Studio's Diagon Alley, we literally feel the world warp and change around us as we enter Rookburgh through the portal from Berlin. That's real magic. 

One thing I will say is musically I was not captivated by the land's soundtrack. With Klugheim I instantly fell in love with that most glorious of epic IMAscore soundtracks and I'm sad to say the same does not go for Rookburgh. Maybe that's because I've had five years of listening to the Klugheim soundtrack on repeat, but I do recall being instantly taken with that track when I first visited back in 2016 but I'd be hard-pressed to even vaguely attempt a hum of the Rookburgh theme. 

The coaster then. So, as I'm sure I must have mentioned countless times before, flying coasters aren't it for me. I've done Vekoma, B&M and Zamperla iterations of the flying coaster and found each equally uncomfortable in their own right. And so I was a little afraid of how F.L.Y. would be any different from these other experiences. I mean, how many ways are there to DO a flying coaster and really make that much impact? 

Well firstly, it's in the loading and transition to flying position. With the other coasters it's all quite undignified - hanging there like a prized-pig on a rotisserie awkwardly trying not to make eye-contact with onlookers. F.L.Y. fixes that with a swish transit-station themed station (think Berlin subway but steampunk and you're essentially there). You board the vehicles in a side-on fashion, like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and ascend a rotating Euromir style lift-hill past a bunch of steampunk gadgets and do-hickeys to distract you from the fact that you're actually rotating into flying position, and then you're into the launch. No awkward hanging, no weird claustrophobia or headrush, because there's no time. It's perfect. 

The two-abreast seating does wonders too - it allows for a narrower track which in turn makes way for snappier transitions and tighter twists and turns. This is the first flying coaster I've ridden that truly feels like flying - it felt like I had a Rocketeer stlye jet-pack on and was whizzing haphazardly across the city of Rookburgh. It had that chaotic element to it where it never felt too controlled, and that adds an element of excitement to all already incredibly exciting experience.

The near-misses are great - we weave through buildings, dive under bridges, through clouds of steam, skirting across rooftops and launching upwards into the sky. The layout is long but never feel repetitive - the minute you feel like you might be running out of steam you dive into an inversion or speed into another launch and are off again. It's a wonderful adventure of a roller-coaster that manages to perfectly balance the euphoria of flying with the thrill of any good coaster, pausing just the right amount where needed ensuring we pause enough to stave off nausea but not long enough to become distracted or snap out of the immersion. 

This is one of the world's best family thrill coasters - something Vekoma seems to be knocking out of the park recently following my experience last year with the wonderful Hals-uber-Kopf at Tripsdrill. It's not an intense coaster experience like Black Mamba or Taron, but it's a step up from an old-school family coaster like a mine train. It fills that gap between family and thrill, a 'tween' coaster, if you will. And a work of art at that - as I say, for me it's certainly up there with some of the best themed coasters in the world and wouldn't look out of place at a Disney park. 


Will it be your favourite coaster in the world? If you're big into coasters then no, probably not. In fact there will probably be coasters you prefer in the same park, and for me as a matter of personal taste Klugheim still pips it for me. But, Rookburgh is wonderful and has that same Phantasialand magic you'll find throughout the rest of the park. For me the most enjoyable part (aside from riding the coaster of course) was simply wandering around the land and nosing around all of the nooks and crannies discovering the little details that ooze from every orifice of the place.

Have you visited Rookburgh and ridden F.L.Y.? What did you think? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to have a chat!

Talk later xoxo,