Enthusiasts who’ve been around this hobby for a while will be familiar with the Majaland brand, which has been applied to a number of different indoor parks over the last few years. The Prague branch is unique in the chain, in that it isn’t a standalone facility; instead, it is accessed through the POP shopping mall located a few kilometres away from Václav Havel Airport in the north-west corner of the Czech capital.
The entrance looks like a perfectly ordinary storefront, but it leads to a bridge over an access road that connects to the second floor of the usual warehouse-style building. Inside the design is familiar yet subtly different to its predecessors thanks to a somewhat smaller floor area – roughly 7000 square metres, about 20% less than the indoor hall at Kownaty. There are also no outdoor attractions, though a small terrace has been provided to accommodate smokers and those wanting to eat their lunch in the sunshine.
The park has a grand total of thirteen attractions, two of which were out of service for my visit: the Padající List (Falling Leaf) drop tower and Tančící Květina (Dancing Flower) miniature frisbee. Most of the remaining rides are targeted at younger visitors, leaving me with just one of interest: Vikova Horská Dráha (#3017), a standard model Zierer Force Two in a light filled box. The ride was identical in all but name to the one I rode a few short weeks ago at Majaland Warsaw. I completed three laps, one in the front and two in the back, and with that done I decided to hit the road.
24th June 2022
One of the most irritating things for the wandering enthusiast is parks that decide not to open on a given day due to poor weather in the morning. I drove for two hours and change to get to Churpfalzpark, arriving in overcast but otherwise pleasant conditions, and found the park completely deserted with a lock on the gate. I took a look at the website to double check whether I’d done something really stupid – and found that it had been updated to announce an all-day shutdown at some point between my departure from Prague and my arrival.
If I’d known about the closure ahead of time I’d have refactored my day entirely, putting the boot down a little on the autobahn in order to get to Ticiland (and another Zierer Force Two) for about 4:00pm. Unfortunately the detour away from fast roads to go look at a closed park meant that there was no longer enough time for me to do that. After some contemplation I decided that my best bet was to reshuffle my itinerary and bring forward a planned visit to Fantasiana by eighteen hours even though I wouldn't get there until three hours before closing.
24th June 2022
My first visit to the park now known as Fantasiana was back in 2005, when it had the descriptive, accurate, yet not terribly marketable name of Erlebnispark Straßwalchen – or for English speaking readers, Straßwalchen Adventure Park. While this name remains on the gate, it appears in small print below the revised brand which was introduced for the 2012 season. Changes and improvements to the park since then have taken its standard of presentation up to a level comparable with the usual European benchmarks of Europa Park and Phantasialand.
Case in point is the Knights Ride Tower, a highly themed twenty metre high indoor drop ride from Switzerland-based abc rides that premiered in 2013. The experience begins with a themed queuing area inhabited by a large animatronic dragon. Once on board, guests are lifted slowly through four different show scenes: two projections, and two animatronic. An air jet effect at leg height, akin to a 5D Cinema, adds an additional surprise at level three. Once at the top, something pushes into the back of each seat immediately prior to the drop, which is unusually intense for a ride of this type.
Also new to me was Fridolin's Verrückter Zauberexpress (#3018), the first launched coaster to be produced by ART Engineering. The initial publicity for the new machine advertised five launches and a track length of five hundred metres, though it’s worth noting that these figures cover the total ride experience, which comprises two laps of a track roughly half that length plus a brief reverse "launch" on dispatch. Creative marketing not withstanding, however, the ride is the perfect family coaster; it’s nicely themed, varied, mild, yet lively enough for the whole family to enjoy. I could have sat on it all day, but stopped after three rounds (two in the back, one in the front) as I wanted to explore more of the park before closing time.
My next port of call was Wild Train, a custom-designed Pax creation that I described seventeen years ago (old fart alert) as "the most airtime-filled experience I have ever had on a coaster of this size". Today the comfort level was decidedly mixed; the back seat reminded me of times past, and I did two laps there, but the front seat was pretty nasty thanks to a horrifically violent left turn immediately after the first airtime hill. It’ll be interesting to see how much longer this ride can remain in service, given that the manufacturer is Russian – I imagine it’s not at all easy to get parts given the sanctions in place at the moment.
I left the coasters behind and headed to the western side of the park for Sindbad’s Abenteurerreise, an operator-free dark ride that is best described as an Arabian-themed ghost train. The layout covers two floors, and the presentation within is top notch. I particularly liked the way the car came to a halt briefly in front of key scenes so that riders could appreciate them fully.
The final hit of the day was Schloss Dracula, a guided walkthrough with an embedded mirror maze and several show sections. One of these had the entire standing area bounce around for a bit, an interesting novelty. The scenes were extremely elaborate, though the movement through the attraction took far too long today, with our guide going through several minutes of spiel at each stop. I suspect even German speakers might have found this a bit tedious after a while; cutting the duration by fifty percent or more would have made the overall experience much better.
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