Review: River Quest

Here’s a little something that may surprise you: River Quest was one of the main reasons I’d wanted to visit Phantasialand ever since I was in my teens. Their batwing boats and Gothic castle themeing really struck a chord with me back then, and it’s something that’s always been in the back of my mind ever since. So when we entered Phantasialand and River Quest’s entrance was very close to the park entrance we came in through, you can bet I was super-excited about finally getting to ride it.

I’m going to cover the cool stuff first, and there is a lot of cool stuff about River Quest. Aside from the batwing boats I just mentioned, River Quest is packed with features including 3 pretty substantial drops, an elevator lift to a ridiculous height for a river rapids ride and a whirlpool drop which I was particularly interested to try as I’ve never done one before. The exterior and queue line is nicely themed, being set in a castle which the boats pass through towards the end of their ride, and the boats themselves have the capacity to move and bend with the water, making the ride more comfortable and helping to make sure they don’t get too bogged down. Although you will still get very wet on this ride, believe that!

Unfortunately, my expectations of River Quest were so high going into it that I was actually left feeling pretty underwhelmed after I had ridden the ride itself. I think the main reason for this is that there is so much technology going on here that there are a whole plethora of things to go wrong. Towards the start of our ride we ended up stuck on a small conveyor that did not want to pick up our boat and take it into the elevator, which meant some poor member of staff was there for about 10 minutes trying to shove us up this conveyor so we could continue our journey. This did ruin the experience somewhat, and as impressive as the elevator and subsequent drop was, I couldn’t help wondering if it was really necessary given the obvious potential for malfunctions leading into it.

The whirlpool I also felt lacked the impact I was hoping for. It looks really awesome when viewed from above, but doesn’t capture this same awe when you’re riding it. I think some well-placed dramatic music would have really helped here, and in fact it would have added to the ride as a whole if they had a Chiapas-esque score as you went around. I felt the themeing on the ride itself in general was a little lacking, which was a surprise and a disappointment given how well themed the exterior and indeed the rest of Phantasialand is.

Don’t get me wrong, River Quest is an enjoyable, wet, and visually impactful ride that packs an arsenal of features into what is a comparatively brief experience. I just think it was lacking a little something that would have turned it from a fun ride into a fantastic ride and would have met the expectations I had going in. This thing has won awards for world’s best water ride, after all, and as an enormous fan of the current world’s best water ride (as voted by Amusement Today in the Golden Ticket Awards) – a ride I will hopefully be reviewing for you fairly soon – I just didn’t think this one compared. Add some extra themeing and a dedicated musical score and this ride would be great. For now it’s worth a ride if it’s hot or quiet, but not a huge disaster if you miss it otherwise.

See you around =] x x

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