Fear and Force, Phantasia Land
humans are a curious lot. Despite around a quarter of the planet remaining
uncharted, we have broadened our horizons of discovery to the furthest
fringes of our solar system and beyond. Our inquisitiveness has yielded
the discovery of extinct breeds of animal, as well as the unearthing of
Yet, it wasn’t
until 2002 that the ancient underground empire of Wuze Town was discovered
at Phantasialand in Bruhl, Germany. Wuze Town is a mythical middle-earth
civilization dating back to 850AD where women rule on the banks of Moon
Despite it being
notable only by its absence over the last ten centuries, the entrance to
Wuze Town is hardly recluse; a huge façade of tan-coloured crazy paving
is brought to life with a whimsical and almost Gaudi-like entrance area
set behind an exotic fantasy garden.
The entrance is
decorated with a pair of whimsical turrets, decorated like giant cobbled
feet with a water feature bubbling over a wooden wheel-like structure
Wuze Town is
essentially a large bazaar, although ingeniously incorporates a complex
labyrinth of pathways and balconies that climb up into the upper pinnacles
of the building. This of course offers a heightened sense of exploration
and discovery, whilst also affording unique views of Winja’s Fear and
Force orbiting their way around hairpin turns before dropping into large
sweeping spirals around the highly themed observation ride, Tittle Tattle
Tree which itself climbs towards the enormous glass atrium above.
In the deepest
recesses of the building, beyond a bustling marketplace, you’ll find
Winjas. The entrance takes you into a dark vault, towards a sculpture of a
middle-earth type creature, with a hawk-like beak, light flaring from
golden eyes with a claw cradling a pink egg.
A staircase wraps
around this statue and takes you up into the main queue hall. The walls
are decorated with a battalion of dark, mysterious characters, hawk-eyed
in the darkness looking down on you.
The queue can look
bewildering, but it splits early to establish which of the courses
you’re going to engage battle with; Fear or Force. Frankly, at the
queue-line stage, the distinction between the two is vague at best. Unlike
other duelling rides like Duelling Dragons where the distinction is made
crystal clear not only by the split in the queue, but also by things like
the colour of the track, I don’t think it would take a complete moron to
miss not only the fact that there are two rides intertwining, but also the
fact there are two coasters signposted as Fear and Force, especially on a
quiet day when the split doesn’t occur opposite a large mural decorated
with Fear and Force respectively pointing in opposite directions.
That said, such
pensiveness might actually work to your benefit. One of the benefits of
having two coasters is that it effectively doubles the capacity of the
attraction and how many people it accommodates on an hour-by-hour basis.
If both rides are marketed unequivocally as being separate – and indeed
unique, then much of the benefit of two rides is made redundant as people
would ride both Fear and Force.
with some of the hostile environments the great explorers such as Indiana
Jones and Frodo Baggins, the queue is stuffy and uncomfortable. The dark
and subdued lighting adds to the atmosphere, but the mass of people in a
small room means on a hot day it will feel more like a sauna over an
The two queues run
parallel as they descend down a staircase down into the deepest depths of
Wuze Town and onto the station platform. Despite the two sides always
being referred to in unison and in order as ‘Fear & Force’ (much
like Bangers & Mash or Romeo & Juliet), confusingly, Force queuers
are on the left hand side, whilst on the control room opposite, the
ride’s name, “Winja’s Fear & Force” further blurs the line of
distinction between the two sides.
The platform is
tiny, accommodating the unload position of the cars where they advance to
the load position where riders are held behind airgates. The set up of the
station is cramped, but against all odds seems to work. Even at this late
stage in the queue where the practicalities of a station should take
precedence over a consistent theme, absolutely nothing is missed.
Operators are in costume, the station is decorated with elaborate
trimmings such as heavy curtains, and the cars are probably the most
ornate I’ve ever seen.
Almost appearing to
have been carved out of stone, the feminine face of Fear/Force decorates
the side of the cars, with ornate finishings such as delicate obelisks and
detail on the very top of the car.
Riders sit in pairs,
back to back. The lapbar is very snug, and effectively cocoons you into
the deep seat. With a quick check, the car advances towards two massive
doors that swing out of the way before you stop in front of two more
A huge lantern
flickers above with a statue depicting Fear/Force cradling a flame in her
cupped hands before two more doors open, you advance forward and stop.
After the hustle and
bustle of Wuze Town, as the door closes behind you and the car is plunged
into darkness, you suddenly feel very insular. A brief moment of
anticipation recedes as the car suddenly and quickly is lifted from the
ground vertically though the darkness to a height of 60 feet. As you
approach the top, the track smoothly tilts downwards almost as if to taunt
forwards facing riders with a view of the steep drop and adding to the
sense of overwhelming curiosity for backwards facing riders.
In just a few
moments, with a satisfying clunk, the car suddenly launches itself down a
steep drop with fleeting glimpses of Force to the left of the direction of
travel. Following the sweeping first drop, the car climbs up towards the
ceiling arching through an exquisite camelback hill before climbing up and
through the first block brake.
From this point on,
your car is free to spin, and does so first though a series of elevated
wild mouse turns. In a feature absent from both Dragon’s Fury and
Spinball Whizzer, these turns really serve little more than a scenic break
from the onslaught of the rest of the ride, being neither particularly
forceful, nor encouraging towards getting the cars spinning.
through this slalom, the car pitches to the side and swoops around the
main atrium of Wuze Town through a sweeping helix. Force swoops overhead
as you suddenly become the object of onlooker’s exclamation as you pass
close enough to eavesdrop on their conversations.
After this prolonged
flyby, and a brief kiss from some mid-course brakes, you drop into the
darkest halls of Wuze Town, climbing suddenly and almost vertically up
through a tight immelman turn, swooping out into the light again almost as
a token formality before diving down a steep drop back into the darkness,
abruptly climbing up a sharp rise on which you suddenly stop, perched
precariously on the end of some dead end track.
As if this
predicament wasn’t dramatic enough, a stirring orchestral melody
explodes as the entire stretch of track tilts downwards as if guided by
some malevolent force and the car drops into a tight right hand turn,
weaving around to the left and stopping on the final brakes.
Even the final
slalom through pitch darkness from the brakes to the station throws some
pepper on the goulash as the track drops briefly from under you before
bouncing back up and returning you into the station – a subtle effect,
and somewhat wasted, but certainly makes a dull gait something more
20 September 2004
The beautiful thing
about Fear and Force being twins is that if you like one, you’ll like
the other, yet each offer their own individual character. Like Fear, Force
gets off to a familiar start; you queue in the same hall, descend down the
same staircase onto the same platform.
This time you load
to the left, and like Fear, your four-seater car is tyre driven straight
out of the station, into a vault and then beyond into a dark, enclosed
No time to waste as
your car is sensationally lifted 60ft in a matter of seconds, smoothly
tipping you into a sweeping first drop, curling elegantly towards the
upper echelons of the glass atrium, rolling around to the right and
sweeping along the length of the hall through a series of subtle
undulations before hitting the first straight into a run of hairpin turns.
Akin to Fear, your
car is now free to spin, and passes through the fairly rudimentary
elevated hairpin turns, treating riders to a particularly sharp turn out
of a set of brakes at the end of this element before spiralling into the
same 65ft diameter carousel helix as Fear, briefly passing over Fear and
then pulling into a straight back towards the entrance of Wuze Town.
In the shadows of
the earlier hairpin bends, your car buries itself into the far corner of
the building, scurrying into a tight corridor of pillars and walls, down a
subtle drop and then plummeting into a sublime drop past a cascading
waterfall down to the water below and past one of the best vantage points
in the whole of Wuze Town before going off piste and into the darker
recesses of Wuze Town.
As soon as the light
fades, your car stops suddenly, and as your eyes become accustomed to the
darkness, you realise you’re perched on a straight of track that goes
absolutely nowhere. Before you can even comprehend an escape route, the
entire stretch of track – train and all – tips sharply to the side,
joining up with another curve of track before you are launched into a
sweeping S-turn, finishing just how Fear finished, with a final section of
trick track leading you into the station.
20 September 2004
on their own merits, both Fear and Force are the epitome of sublime. Like
Dragon’s Fury at Chessington, Winja’s can confidently be filed under
‘Fun’, and raises a smile from even the most sombre of rider, whether
young or old, a white knuckle fan or family fan.
Fear is, in my
opinion, without a doubt the better of the two. It has a far more
spectacular opening with a massive straight drop into an oversized
camelback hill, and has a better and more composed middle section
following the main helix making use of the extra 200-or-so feet of track
length at it’s disposal.
Force, however, is
hardly a turkey. The comparably lacklustre start is offset by a wonderful
stint along the back wall of Wuze Town with a wonderful drop past a large
waterfall and into the darker regions of Wuze Town.
Neither ride escapes
criticism, however petty. The Wild Mouse hairpin bends on both are fairly
tame, but to their credit adds variety to an already fruity medley of
The main criticism
seems to be when the rides leave the main hall and enter a darkened hall
in the back of Wuze Town. Whilst the hall is dark, it isn’t dark enough
to disguise the fact it is unthemed and by the same token, ugly. It is
similar to the warehouse section on Colorado Adventure, where you
unquestionably profit from the darkness, but cannot escape the fact
you’re just in a large, dark room.
Again, almost as if
to weaken my own argument, this is a moot point on an otherwise
elaborately themed ride. Both of the tracks interact well with the
pathways around Wuze Town, and indeed the Vekoma Mini-Paratower, Tittle
Ignoring the ‘dark
room’, nothing has been missed with regards to the theme. Supports are
disguised as wooden pillars and are often built into the building itself
supporting the balconies and roof above. Also, the pillars supporting the
wild-mouse-style turns at the beginning of the ride rise out from strange
little tent-come-buildings. Silly little details like this abound, and –
it’s a cliché – but often up to Disney standard.
Even ignoring the
trick track sections, each of these rides holds it’s own against other
family coasters, and like most Maurer spinning coasters has a broad
appeal. But, add to this unusual elements such as the see-saw, the tilting
track and the drop track towards the end of the ride, as well as other
unique elements such as the vertical lift, and you have a ride that uses
not only attention-seeking tricks to embed themselves into your memory,
but also a varied, action-packed layout to ensure that you’ll enjoy it
ride after ride.
I’ll be honest
here and say that my main concern with Winja’s Fear and Force was that
the trick track elements would be intrusive and break up and flow that the
coasters had, but each punctuates the transition into a new ‘chapter’
of the ride well – from the main hall, into the coaster’s final
curtain and both the tilting track and see-saw are quick enough to mean
that every moment is one to be savoured, and not intruded upon by
logistical clutter such as the stopping of the car or the aligning of the
At 40ft and banked
at 80-degrees, Fear’s Immelman turn is hardly statistically note-worthy,
but is fast, sudden and a complete surprise as it is hidden away to all
but the most inquisitive – consequently, it is one of the best executed
versions of this element to date.
Both coasters also
profit immensely by their original setting – both enclosed, but
certainly not in the traditional sense. In fact, there’s very little
traditional about either of these coasters, but each has enough substance
to guarantee that you’ll enjoy every ride and that it doesn’t solely
rely on wafer-thin tricks to impress.
Maurer have both respectively struck gold. Winjas shows off Maurer’s
capabilities in the very best light, whilst Phantasialand have looked
outside the box when it comes to hosting a wonderful family roller coaster
with universal appeal. Phantasialand have unearthed a wonderful
‘town’, and a near faultless coaster.
20 September 2004
tracks means double capacity
tricks including vertical lift, see-saw, tilting track and falling
and varied layout
a very smooth ride
interaction with paths, and nice setting inside
section of the ride is sparse and unthemed
to ride both sides, somewhat negating the bonus of double capacity
hairpin bends, and uninspiring start to Force