Review: Temple of the Night Hawk

Temple of the Night Hawk is one of those interesting rides where the exterior says very, very little about what will be contained inside the building. Even if you know it’s a roller coaster, as I did, the title and the coloured metal cladding really doesn’t give you any hints as to what might be waiting for you inside. Nonetheless, this helps to build up the mystery and the intrigue around the ride, so I went into it with an open mind, looking forward to trying out the attraction.

When Night Hawk first opened it was space-themed, and this is pretty obvious at virtually every stage of the experience. The metal of the building is very spacey, as is the rocket-themed train. Despite a half-hearted attempt to jungle theme them, the most impressive piece of themeing this ride has is still the station, which is very nicely done. Sadly, though, it does feel very out of place inside the building, and quite honestly I think a space theme would make more sense for the ride as a whole. The contrast to this is that the space theme doesn’t fit with the Fantasy themed area the ride is located in, so I guess it’s a lose-lose in that respect. Or, you know, they could put a bit more effort into re-themeing the ride; I almost hate to say it, but I could actually see virtual reality working really well on this ride, due to the darkness of the current experience and lack of themeing as it stands.

Fortunately, the ride experience itself makes up for this disjointed themeing. Night Hawk is advertised on the park map as ‘The longest indoor coaster in Europe’, and it certainly lives up to that moniker. The thing has 3 lifts, and feels like it goes on a lot longer than its four minute ride time. It’s also pitch black the whole way through, and what this does all together is create an experience where you literally have no idea where you’re going. You could be lost in space (or a dark jungle, I guess), and that building genuinely feels like it goes on forever. It adds an extra dimension of disorientation and fear to the ride as you start wondering if you’ll ever make it out of there.

The track layout is no slouch, keeping you guessing as to what’s coming next and featuring sudden direction changes and drops in aforementioned darkness to leave you truly disoriented. The lift hills, while fairly short, provide a nice breather from the action, while also adding to the mystery of the experience – if you didn’t know the ride had 3 lifts beforehand you’d seriously start wondering if this thing goes on forever. It’s not the most exciting indoor coaster in the world in terms of speed or force, and it’s certainly not the scariest, but it is very enjoyable, disorienting and somewhat unnerving as you hurtle through this big black space with no real idea of where you’re going or what you’re doing.

Long story short, Temple of the Night Hawk is an interesting and pretty fun indoor roller coaster ride. It gets a lower score than it should for execution, mainly due to the sloppy and lazy re-themeing, but it’s nonetheless a ride worth doing during your visit to Phantasialand. I just hope you’re not afraid of the dark!

See you around =] x x

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